I’m an Actor, They Don’t Get It

Mandela Bellamy portrays a girl who finds her love for acting and way of life through watching the Cosby Show in the vignette “Full House Empty” (photo: Ali Vossough Photography)

According to the Aristotelian model, theatre is a kind of group therapy – a way for us to process our fears, angst, and dreams. The action on stage includes certain essential elements designed to guide us through the thorny forests of our emotions, with the promise that at the end we will emerge wiser, braver, and lighter. This purgation of fear and emotion is known as the catharsis (from the Greek kathairein – to purify) and is the general aim of most story structure. That humanity hungers for great stories and their therapeutic application is something that the minds behind I’m An Actor, They Don’t Get It understand with rare brilliance.

The play unfolds as a series of monologues, vignettes, and musical numbers thematically linked in their expression of the plight of the struggling actor in Los Angeles. Writer/director Tiffany Black, who also appears in the cast, nails the day-to-day desperation, thrills, and perils of what it means to be dedicated to acting in the most competitive industry on earth. That the stories are told from the perspective of African-Americans adds special significance to the production, as the issues they face are often unique to that demographic, particularly in regards to typecasting.

Each character is lovingly, meticulously rendered by the superlative cast (with each actor covering multiple roles), and we are with them as they battle, surrender to, rationalize, and ultimately transcend their pain. It is an inspiring, moving experience – one of the most complex and fascinating approaches to classic theatrical structure I’ve seen. Unreservedly, wholeheartedly recommended.

”I’m an Actor, They Don’t Get It” is playing at the Stella Adler Theater located at 6773 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd Floor Hollywood, CA 90028 Written/Directed by Tiffany Black and starring: Mandela Bellamy, Aleksandra Alise, Jermaine Jacox El. Playing July 9; 10; 16; 17; 23; 24 @ 8:00 p.m. July 11; 18; 25 @ 5:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling or on the Web at www.newamericandivas.com/imanactor.html.

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