It’s a mad, mad, mad world once beloved King Lear begins to succumb to insanity, dividing his kingdom between his daughters and setting off a series of tragic events. In King Lear’s world it is not only the king who suffers, but also his entire kingdom.
Shakespeare in Clark Park brings to life this classic tale of power and madness, July 24-28, and includes a company of some of Philly’s favorite actors, including Brian Anthony Wilson.
Wilson, who grew up in Philly and now lives in Cherry Hill, N.J., says growing up he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do. He says, “At first I thought I might like to be a doctor but my math skills weren’t good enough. Then one day I heard that Freedom Theatre was holding some classes and I decided to attend, mainly just to improve myself.”
Wilson began by taking some singing lessons, but soon learned that within the school’s curriculum students were mandated to take acting classes as well.
“And by the time I was thrown into a play, getting on-the-job training, I was totally hooked. And studying acting meant I had such wonderful mentors as Johnny Hobbs to guide me.”
Today, Wilson has used that training and guidance to appear in TV, film, and on stage. Some of his recent stage credits include “Gem of the Ocean,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Diary of Anne Frank” and many more. Among his film credits are “Glass,” “Ocean’s 8,” “Crooked and Narrow” and “The Postman.”
On TV, Wilson has appeared in “Wu Tang: An American Saga,” “Bloodline,” “Law and Order: SVU,” and “The Sopranos,” among others.
The multi-faceted actor insists he enjoys all phases of acting, but appearing in Clark Park gives him one thing other venues cannot.
“We’re playing for free at an open-air park in front of some 1500 people. Some of the people who come to see us know Shakespeare, while others are new to the plays.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring Shakespeare to many people, but at the same time working in the Park provides the ultimate lesson in concentration,” he continues. “While trains are running and kids are running around and dogs are barking, you must continue to play your character as though none of those things were happening. You have to block out everything else and just become your character as you concentrate on the play.”
Meanwhile, Wilson points out, “It’s a beautiful experience. You look out there and see every shade of the rainbow listening to and watching you. Plus you’re working with other actors, all doing the same thing, and so there’s a wonderful camaraderie that develops between all of us.”
A professional actor since 1996, Wilson admits loving everything he does and all his many appearances. “But if I could only pick one thing to do, it would definitely be acting on stage. ‘There’s nothing like the immediate reaction by the audience to what you’re doing. And I love being able to tell a story from beginning to end.
“So although it doesn’t pay as well as film or TV, acting live on stage would always be my first choice.”