Phillip Brown, Upper School Theater Director at Shipley, considers his portrayal of Jay Jackson in Lantern Theater Company's "The Royale" to be the role of a lifetime.
"The Royale" was nominated for seven Barrymore Awards, including Outstanding Overall Production of a Play, with Phillip himself nominated for Outstanding Leading Performance in a Play.
The play was inspired by real-life boxer Jack Johnson, an American boxer who, at the height of the Jim Crow era, became the first Black world heavyweight boxing champion. Phillip spoke of the unique challenges this role posed, encompassing physical, mental, and emotional demands. Very seldom does one role require all three. In addition to the strenuous physical demands of the role, it also required a level of fearlessness to navigate the heavy mental-emotional undertones of playing such a significant character in history. Phillip’s aim was to shine a light on Jack Johnson's heroic legacy and prompt reflection on untold Black heroes. He said, "playing Jack Johnson in The Royale... was the perfect culmination of everything I have learned as an actor.”
Phillip sees teaching as a vital part of his creative journey, fostering self-discovery, confidence, and empathy in his students. He states, "While I'm teaching, I'm constantly refreshing myself with the principles that I’ve learned." For over three decades, starting during his early college years, Phillip has been involved in teaching on mission trips with his church, bringing performing arts to inner-city neighborhoods, and ultimately finding his role as an educator where he begins his 16th year at Shipley. Teaching serves as a pathway to refine his skills, but he has always found himself returning to the stage to perform. He elaborates, "As an artist, I believe the ideal scenario is to continuously hone your craft while also sharing it through teaching. If you devote too much time to either one exclusively, you risk losing balance." Students have even attended his performances, which adds an important dimension to their learning experience, fostering trust and respect in the classroom. This trust encourages them to take greater risks when performing on stage or in the studio.
As a consummate professional, Phillip finishes by thanking his cast and crew, “I’m immensely grateful to the Lantern for selecting this play…I think they have a great director and wonderful actors, all of whom are breathing such brilliant life into these characters and really giving it their all on stage. I mean, you talk about sacrificial acting everyone’s giving of themselves in this beautiful way.”
This year’s Barrymore Award nominations honor 43 productions. The ceremony is still being planned and a date and location will be announced soon. We wish Phillip luck in this nomination and are proud of all he has achieved throughout his career!
Ozzie Jones, Shipley’s Middle School Theater Director, shares the spotlight as Theatre in the X receives a nomination for Outstanding Outdoor Production of the hit musical Dreamgirls. Stay tuned for his upcoming interview in the coming weeks as we celebrate this achievement.