COLIN SMITH: I got into theater in college as a Film student. I fell in love with collaborative aspects of theater and the immediacy of it.
JL: Set in Hampton, Virginia in the 1940s, THE HAMPTON YEARS examines the impact of World War II on Jewish immigrants living in the United States and their role in shaping the lives and careers of African American students in the segregated south. This play investigates the various ways in which racism and bigotry negatively impact the arts, academia and military. Where do you feel we are in terms of race relations in the U.S.?
CS: Race relations is always a difficult question for me to get a grasp on. I suppose I like to believe that we are making great progress, but then I see or hear or read something that makes me realize how far we have to go. There are so many layers of racism from the overt to the supremely subtle and though we may not be peeling them away entirely we are at least exposing more of the less apparent levels, at least I hope so.
JL: THE HAMPTON YEARS also celebrates and honors such extraordinary artists as John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis, Viktor Lowenfeld and Charles White for their bold and courageous ability to overcome these challenges and create beautiful, powerful and lasting works of art. Why do you feel this play is relevant to today audiences?
CS: I think the play is relevant because it talks about being truthful, both to yourself and to others. A big part of this is understanding who we are and what we believe. The primary characters of the play struggle with this understanding and that is a universal and eternal struggle.
JL: Which character are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
CS: I play president Maclean and the Navy Admiral. I think the trait I have most in common with both characters is a stubbornly practical view to the world that supersedes any idealism. I wish this were not the case as I then tend to accept things as they are as opposed to pushing for change, look at that maybe I just gained a little more understanding of myself, thanks Jacqueline.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
CS: The next show I will be doing is "Neverwhere" with Rorschach Theatre which will open in August.