Brent and LouisBy Britton Buttrill

I met with Brent Rose and Louis Gregory for coffee at Brent’s midtown apartment, where we discussed their roles in Actor’s Express’ current production, Good Boys and True, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Melissa Foulger, which runs through Feb. 13. In Good Boys and True, Louis portrays wealthy prep-school jock Brandon Hardy, while Brent plays the role of Brandon’s best friend, Justin Simmons, in a play that concerns the discovery of a sex-tape at the prestigious St. Joe’s School, and the controversy that ensues. We talked a little bit about the direction of the play, its contemporary relevance, their fellow actors, and their individual characterization processes.

Brent and Louis, you’ve both worked at Actor’s Express before under the direction of Freddie Ashley; what has that experience been like? And how did it feel to work with Melissa Foulger on this project?

Louis: Melissa is incredible. She is so analytical and detail oriented.  Every single moment was crafted on that stage; nothing slips by her. Every actor has grown with this director, and I would say that it’s a testament to Freddie Ashley as Artistic Director that he can pick a show that he loves, and then trust it to another director, and know that in that director’s hands, it will be an accomplishment; although Freddie will put in his two cents (laughs).

Brent: Every moment, or choice that the actor makes, she recognizes it. Whether it’s a small gesture or a big choice, she’ll take that and make you really believe it. In some ways this has been the hardest production that I have done, but it has been so successful because of her abilities as a director.

Louis, you get to play opposite veteran Georgia Shakespeare actress Tess Kinkaid. What was that experience like?

Louis: She’s incredible. She gives you so much.  There are a lot of actors who will just wait for their line, faking a sense of engagement to the audience, but Tess’ eyes are like daggers. Working with her is very sink or swim; you either match that level or get drowned on stage. As a young actor, it forces you to be stronger and to grow. I’ve grown more with this show, than with any show I’ve done. When I did Finn in the Underworld ,I grew leaps and bounds from opening to closing night, but with this show I feel like I’ve grown just with the rehearsal process, and that’s because of Tess, Brent and the rest of the cast.

Brent: I’d say that’s true. The best thing for an actor is for the other actors to be giving, and to be listening, and Tess in all of her greatness as an actress, does that. I think I really discovered that greatness watching her onstage with other actors. When she discovers something within a scene, she just goes for it.

Good Boys and True seems to deal considerably with the privileges associated with wealth and class; how do you think the message of the play bears a certain relevance to today’s economic climate?

Brent: It’s a timeless message, in that entitlement grants a kind of freedom that is unfair, but in-disposable. The rich were given an audience to root for them with the middle class. The idea that it is possible for the middle class to become the upper class is, at most, a fiction, but it is particularly American. You have this illusion that you can become them, and this creates an even greater sense of entitlement.  I feel this is the greatest part of the message of Good Boys and True.

Louis: I think one of the most frightening aspects of Good Boys and True, is that in the context of the play, my character, Brandon will be fine. He is absorbing his surroundings, and he is right in thinking that one phone call to his father will solve everything, as he says to Justin, Brent’s character, ‘I’ll still go further than you, make more money than you, and be happier than you.’

Good Boys and True is a very character driven play; what was the most essential aspect of your characterization process?

Louis: For me it was an understanding of Brandon’s sense of entitlement because, that’s the most horrific part of the character. That’s why he doesn’t understand, and as an actor, I had to know that he truly is confused. After one of our shows, I had a woman come up to me and say, ‘you were terrifying’, which is great, because that means I did my job.

Brent: The big part of understanding Justin- and this was Freddie’s big note to me- was not to play a martyr. At first I was playing it- getting upset and crying- but then I realized what’s more interesting is that he’s trying to keep some sort of power as a character, and to play the power whenever it’s available. It’s far more interesting when you see a character fighting the pain, or trying to contain it rather than showing it.

So why should people see this show?

Louis: …It’s like lightening I think. It’s so powerful, so moving… I don’t’ think the Atlanta stage has shows like this very often. The caliber of the performances, the script, the directing; this doesn’t happen very often.

Brent: People should see it because people should see theatre, and should support theatre, and I’m very proud of the show.

Good Boys and True, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and directed by Melissa Foulger, runs from Jan. 14 to Feb. 13 at Actor’s Express. For ticket information, call their Box Office at (404) 607 7469, or to purchase tickets online, go to www.actors-express.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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