by W. Vickroy, Marketing Assistant.
After last Friday’s opening night of By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, we got in touch with the fantastic Terrell Donnell Sledge (Leroy Barksdale/ Herb) to ask a few questions about his experience with this production, as well as to gain some insight about what theater means to him.
Q. What attracted you to working in Boston and being a part of Meet Vera Stark?
A. This is a very smart, clever and poignant story that I couldn’t help but be excited about the prospect of working on. Lynn Nottage sets out to—and I believe succeeds at— creating a narrative discourse on a subject that at times seems impossible to breach. There are few things better than working on something that holds a close and personal meaning, and in many ways that is this play for me. I was also really excited to work with Summer L. Williams and be a part of her partnership with Lyric Stage.
Q. How would you compare the experience of working in Boston to what you’ve done in New York?
A. There is a sense of being settled and at home that I see in my cast mates, our crew and everyone that is really special and often hard for me to feel in New York. NY is such a transient place that it is easy to forget what it feels like to be in a place like Boston and to be a guest invited into someone’s theatre home and community.
Q. Is this your first time performing outside of New York? Would you do it again?
A. I’ve done a number of regional theatre productions, and find that I really enjoy visiting various theatre communities and experiencing life and work there. I always look forward to the travel and new experience.
Q. What has been your favorite or most challenging aspect about working on Meet Vera Stark?
A. There is so much content layered into this piece. There are so many characters and points of view to track and encounter, and it was always my hope to do what I can to present my pieces of the grand puzzle so no one misses anything. Not enough people see theatre productions more than once, and our show is a clear example of why that should change. I’m still discovering the intricacies of what the story contains, and the more I see, the more I enjoy it. I want everyone to experience that.
Q. Do you have a favorite show that you’ve worked on in the past?
A. Two, actually. The Duchess of Malfi, because my character suffered from lycanthropy, and How We Got On, by Idris Goodwin. The latter is a spectacular story about discovering who you are and the way music and art can preserve one’s story.
Q. What attracts you to certain plays or productions?
A. I love theatre that has something to say and reveal to the audience. Whether it is how one man journeys through loss or it is examining a grander social subject. I think that if theatre endeavors to present the vulnerable and exposed truths that life contains, it is always worthwhile.
Q. Do any performers, directors, or writers inspire you? Who, and why?
A. I’m inspired by artists who endeavor to capture the world they know. I love discovering the commonalities that exist in the specific perspectives individuals have as a result of their lives and experiences. That is one reason I was a fan of my director, Summer, before I’d even worked with her. I count James Baldwin and Walter Mosley as writers —though not specifically theatrical—who also have a gift for capturing and examining the world as they see it and in doing so, I believe empower others to do the same.
Q. If you could perform in any show, anywhere, what would you choose, and why?
That is hard. I really enjoy working with the language in classical pieces and would love to direct a production of Julius Caesar. But in terms of acting, August Wilson’s, King Hedley II has been on my mind and my dream would be to do the films for all of Mosley’s Easy Rawlins books, as they deal with transitioning between worlds and the relationship between one’s past and how it impacts their present and ultimately their future.
Q. What made you decide to become an actor in the first place?
A. Originally, I just wanted to because my older brother wanted to. I was in about second grade then, but over the years, I realized that try as I might to quit and do other things, when I was not involved in theatre in some form or other, I wasn’t as happy or fulfilled.
Q. For those looking to professionally enter the world of theater, what would be your #1 piece of advice?
A. Kujichagulia: self-determination. Set your goals for yourself. You decide what you are capable of and can’t let other people decide that for you. If you don’t believe in you, it doesn’t matter what anyone else believes. So make up your mind and then always seek to be better than you were the day before.
Terrell Donnell Sledge is making his Lyric Stage debut. Most recently, Terrell completed work on set in Tim Reid’s and New Millennium Studios’ Troop 491 and Blues in The Night. Terrell holds an M.F.A. from Brown University/Trinity Rep and is a Yale University graduate. Terrell would like to thank God and his loving family for their support and commitment.WWW.TERRELLDONNELLSLEDGE.COM