Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #87

Tickets for the movie Night Catches US


cf5ad86582ce2b5d1a511d88ed8f11f2.124.82 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #87 (pictured: Johnny Lee Davenport)

Johnny Lee Davenport has scored a trifecta!

Last month he earned raves for his role as a bereaved dad in “Vengeance Is the Lord’s” at The Huntington Theater Company. Currently he’s an adjunct professor and beleaguered dad who looks out his window to see that the neighbors who’ve just moved in constitute his worst nightmare in Company One’s production of the controversial “Neighbors” (a debut script from Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, 26). And even before that run concludes Feb. 5, the Boston-based Equity actor starts rehearsals at the Lyric Stage for “Broke-ology” about a family at a crossroads.

Says Davenport about the hat trick, “I am really grateful.”

When the KBAR began our conversation with Davenport he was on the bus in a snow storm traveling to New York for an audition, this time hoping to land a spot with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Company. He dreams of being in every one of the Bard’s plays, having chalked up 26 to date. The Equity try-out is for “The Comedy of Errors,” one of the plays he’s missing in his quest. At this point his phone – or mine – stops transmitting.

The next day Davenport is back in Boston, having not even been seen by the casting director. “Too many actors turned out,” he said. Acting is a highly competitive occupation. “I never thought I would work in my chosen field,” confides Davenport, who, born in Shreveport, Louisiana, grew up in the Jim Crow South.

Not many years back there was a dearth of roles for actors of color but opportunities have multiplied thanks to emerging black playwrights, area black theaters, more experienced African American directors, and theater companies interested in diversity. Davenport sees himself as a Boston-based actor. He likes the city’s “history of audacity” such as the Boston Tea Party and its environment that “fosters African American theater companies.”

He says of the third play in this trilogy of roles that he is pleased to have been asked by the Lyric’s artistic director Spiro Veloudos to work at his company. “He saw me in one of the Shakespeare plays I did with Actors Shakespeare Project. Afterwards, he told me that he needed to find a vehicle for me.

“Recently he phoned me with the news he had this play “Break-ology” he’d like to stage but he wouldn’t do it without me. It was all very flattering.”

The play will be directed by Benny Sato Ambush, a professor at Emerson College in the theater department formerly with American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and George Bass’s Rites and Reason black-oriented theater on the campus of Brown University. “Broke-ology” was written by emerging playwright Nathan Louis Jackson, 32, a Kansas City denizen who saw his family drama featuring a father with MS like his own father staged at Lincoln Center. Break-ology opens March 25, running through April 23. Neighbors is now playing, through Februay 5th at the Boston Center for the Arts. By Kay Bourne

Official Website of Company One


Page 2 of 6 | Previous page | Next page