JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, can you tell me how long have you been acting? What was the first play that you ever worked on as an actor? What did you learn from that experience that remains with you today?
IAN LITHGOW: I have been acting professionally since I was in my early 20s. What I learned first and foremost from my early experiences as an actor was the importance of listening. Some of my favorite productions I did as a young actor are The Tempest, The Three Sisters, Hedda Gabler, The Foreigner, and Largo Desolato.
JL: Why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
IL: Whatever initially inspired me, I was probably too young at the time for me to remember now. I do know that in my formative years I traveled the country with my parents when my father was in a touring production of My Fat Friend with Lynn Redgrave.
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.?
IL: There are about 1 million African Americans who are incarcerated. I don’t think we’re doing so good.
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?
IL: Freedom of artistic expression I would think is an important and relevant issue at present.
JL: Which character are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
IL: I am playing Viktor Lowenfeld. What appeals to me about Viktor is his sense of loyalty, and his belief in the importance of beauty and artistic expression.
JL: If there is one thing you want audiences to walk away knowing or thinking about after experiencing THE HAMPTON YEARS, what would that be?
IL: I would hope audiences would think of the play as an inspiring true story of courage and resilience.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
IL: I work mostly in Philadelphia and New York City.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!