When Barry Williams had an opportunity to move to the Capital Region three years ago, he didn’t think twice about it. Schenectady is a lot closer to New York City than Buffalo.
A busy actor in the Buffalo area, where he worked much of the time with Road Less Traveled Theatre, Williams is making his Capital Region stage debut in “Clybourne Park,” being produced by the Classic Theater Guild at The Albany Barn. The show opened this weekend and will have three more performances next Friday and Saturday.
WHAT: A production by Classic Theater Guild
WHERE: The Albany Barn, 56 Second St., Albany
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $18.50-$15.50
MORE INFO: 935-4858, www.albanybarn.org
Williams, 31, grew up in the Buffalo area and went to Villa Maria College, where he majored in psychology and education. But he has also spent plenty of time modeling and acting, and currently works creating educational videos for PreK12 Plaza, based in Clifton Park.
In “Clybourne Park,” he plays a black man dealing with racial prejudice in white, middle-class Chicago. Written by Bruce Norris, the play won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play. The show is a spin-off of “A Raisin in the Sun,” written by Lorraine Hansberry in 1959.
Karen Christina Jones is directing the Classic Theater Guild production, which also stars Chevell Edwards, Jessica Paul, Tyler Pratt, John Quinan, Michael Sloman, George Fileau and Debra Bercier.
Q: Why did you move to the Capital Region?
A: We came here so I could expand my film and theater work, and we’re testing out the Capital Region a little bit. When you’re in the Albany area you’re in much closer proximity to New York City than you are when you’re in Buffalo. Buffalo is kind of far away, and here you’re a little close to New York and auditions.
Q: Do you want to eventually work in New York City?
A: I absolutely have higher aspirations. Acting is the passion in my life and whatever I do is mirrored in that, both in business and in art. At PreK12 Plaza we produce videos where kids are replicating what they learned in school in a form so that other children can learn. They are educational videos and as I teach I learn.
Q: Were you always involved in theater?
A: Yes. I wrote and produced a play when I was in high school. It was a project for Black History Month, and the idea was what if Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Junior had a presidential debate. We did it around election time and I played Malcolm and a friend played Martin. The response we got was out of this world. I had a guidance counselor who came up to me and said he was going to steer me in this direction. He thought I should think about a career in performing.
Q: What did you do after high school?
A: I got a liberal arts education at Villa Maria College in Buffalo, and I did some modeling work and was assigned to a company in Ohio. I’m still doing some work out of Syracuse. But mostly I was just trying to get more acting experience. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Q: Who is your favorite actor?
A: I have a lot of them, but oddly enough I really did admire Sylvester Stallone when I was growing up. I loved “Rocky.” Denzel Washington is great. His performances are the benchmark for any young actor, and I know it sounds like a cliche, but Sidney Poitier. He really struck a chord with me.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: I loved “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith. I just loved that idea of persistence, and not letting anything stop you. Everyone has their own route and it’s unorthodox. There’s nothing saying, “this is set, and this is how you do this and this is how you do that.” Everyone makes their own path.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]