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Classical Shakespeare Actor Shares his Experience in Acting

Born in Bath, England to Jamaican parents and raised in Montreal, John Douglas Thompson worked as a traveling computer salesman in New England until he lost his job. He then decided to pursue acting at a Rhode Island theater conservatory, landing notable roles like Flavius from Julius Caesar and Othello. At one point, The New York Times said of Mr. Thompson, “There may be no better classical actor working in the New York Theater right now.”

Scroll: What is it about theater that made you pursue an acting career?

JDT: Plays give me this opportunity to explore my own humanity. The play world gives you the option of exploring characters that live lives apart from your actual daily life. That leads to a constant exploration of humanity, and that’s what does it for me. As an actor, I get a role in a play, study that role, and study the time of the play, so it enhances my intelligence as an actor, and I am constantly exploring different kinds of things.

Scroll: Are there any lessons that you’ve taken from your experiences that you wish you would’ve known when you started acting?

JDT: I think it would be two things: patience and trust. Just having the patience to realize that things will happen without you forcing them, and trusting the fact that you’re good enough to be any character in any play. It’s really about enhancing your self-esteem and keeping that in a positive place.

Scroll: Do you have any projects coming up that you’re particularly excited about?

JDT: Absolutely, I am going to do Joe Turner’s Come and Gone in March, the play that inspired me to become an actor. Then I’ll be working on a production of Hamlet that will hopefully happen the summer of 2014.

Scroll: What’s your favorite memory in your career?

JDT: There was a moment that I was acting like I was passed out in a play about drunkards, and it was as if I felt I was transported to that very time. The delineation between the play world and real world was gone. It was that moment of transportation, not as an audience member, but as a cast member. And so that was a fascinating experience where, for the first time, I got that feeling that everything was real. It was like it was really happening to me. It’s the kind of experience that makes you want to do this kind of stuff more.

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