STREAMERS' Brad Fleischer: Finely Free-Falling
This Veteran's Day, as the people of America take a moment to remember those brave men and women who have served our country, Roundabout Theatre Company opens David Rabe's award-winning and stirring war-time play, Streamers...
Brad Fleischer stars as Billy, a wide-eyed and sentimental young man fresh from bootcamp in 1965 Virginia. Billy and his fellow soldiers, Richie (Hale Appleman), Roger (J.D. Williams) and Carlyle (Ato Essandoh) struggle to understand their new life in the army as they watch the Vietnam conflict escalate. "Tensions rise over race, sexuality and class, culminating in an explosive act that changes them forever. Streamers is an unflinching exploration of the turmoil and confusion facing young men threatened by forces beyond their control," detail press notes.
Streamers won the 1976 Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, and was nominated for the 1977 Tony Award for Best Play. This production of Streamers is based on the 2007 Huntington Theatre Company production directed by Scott Ellis.
Prior to Streamers Opening Night, Brad Fleischer shared part of his afternoon with BroadwayWorld to discuss his involvement and focus within this poignant and jarring production...
Eugene Lovendusky: Congratulations on an extraordinary performance! What's it like bringing this play to New York?
Brad Fleischer: New York audiences are a bit more theatre-savvy, in terms that they are coming to see an event. Streamers is definitely a play that pushes boundaries and I'm finding New York audiences are more willing to go with it.
Eugene: How did you first become involved in Streamers?
Brad: I was on Broadway in Coram Boy (which got cancelled a little early) and Streamers was the first audition I had outside. Streamers is a play a lot of young male actors seem to read while they're going through school. I don't know how, but I had never read the play. I wanted to read for Scott Ellis, then met David Rabe and got the part. I'm from Boston, so I was excited to go back there.
Eugene: Where did you grow-up and go to school?
Brad: I grew-up in a small town, Dover-Sherborn, a suburb south of Boston. In college, I hopped all over the place. I wanted to be a basketball player and went to Hamilton College in upstate New York where I majored in math. Then I decided I didn't want to do math or work on Wall Street. I ended-up getting into the University California of San Diego for my Masters with Kyle Donnelly, the director of their theatre program. The people in my class were all exceptionally talented. I've been working since... one of the lucky few.
Eugene: How has Billy fit into your life today?
Brad: The more and more I work on Billy, the more close I feel to him... it's kind of insane! I've sort of always been a busy-body. I've always been that person that wants to hear all the stuff, to tell somebody my opinion to make them feel better, or get upset if I've said too much, or someone might judge me. It's been so interesting working on it! What makes David one of the best writers ever is, he asks questions that don't necessarily have answers and leaves it up to the actor to fill that in and ultimately hopes that you fill it in a way that leaves questions for the audience! A lot of the audience is leaving asking: What has driven Billy to the army? Is he gay? Is he straight? What's going on there? And what happened back then - with adolescence, sexuality, race - and putting it into a really confined space... lets everything implode on itself!
Eugene: Streamers is a very masculine story, but at the same time, very sensitive. What sort of insight did writer David Rabe provide?