BWW Interviews: Hearing Impaired Actor Eddie Buck Makes Professional Debut in Growing Stage's MOTHER HICKS
Actor Eddie Buck was destined to become a performer. "I've always wanted to be an actor since I was a child." shares Buck. "I enjoyed performing for family members and in school plays. When I was young, I used to watch videos called "Sign Me a Story." Linda Bove, a deaf actor herself, acted out stories in sign language and that is when I knew I wanted to become an actor."
The talented performer who hails from Monroe, PA, boasts theater credits ranging from the 'Dumbshow Player' in Bloomburg Theatre Ensemble's "Hamlet" to 'Jack' in the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf's production of "Jack and the Beanstalk". Last week, Buck made his professional theater debut as 'Tuc' in The Growing Stage's production of MOTHER HICKS.
The play, created by Suzan Zeder, follows the story of three outsiders, a young girl known only as Girl; a deaf boy, Tuc, and an eccentric recluse, Mother Hicks, who is suspected of being a witch. Set in southern Illinois during the great Depression, the play chronicles the journey of this unlikely threesome as they try to find themselves, and each other, during a troubled time.
Eddie Buck took a moment out of his busy schedule to discuss his role in MOTHER HICKS as well as his journey to his professional acting debut.
Can you tell me a little about the character of Tuc?
Tuc is a deaf boy with no family. He works in the town but lives with Mother Hicks up on the hill. He watches "girl" throughout the play and wants to protect her. Tuc forms a relationship with "Mother Hicks," who is also a lonely person that everyone thinks is a witch. The three outcasts get together and help take care of each other.
In the role of Tuc, you have the responsibility of being the narrator who communicates the story. As a deaf actor, can you talk about the techniques you use to communicate and connect with the audience?
As the narrator, I use sign language to tell the audience the story through my eyes. I watch after "girl," and share with the audience how I feel about the town people. Through my signing, facial expressions and body language, the audience is able to tell how I feel about what is happening in the story.
What challenges does this present for you?
The most challenging part for me is the pace of my signing. I am used to signing fast and have to concentrate on signing slower and bigger than I normally do. Also challenging was not being able to hear the other actors on stage and knowing when it is my turn. We had to become creative to make up cues for me to know when it is my turn to address the audience.
Can you relate to Tuc in some ways? Are there characteristics you have in common with him?
As a deaf actor, I can relate to the communication barriers Tuc had to endure. It was easy for me to relate to the character since I have had some of the same experiences communicating with others while growing up. Tuc is a hard worker, sensitive and very caring person who wants to help others and I feel I have the same characteristics.
While MOTHER HICKS takes place during the 1930's Great Depression, it appears to tell a story of hope despite tough times. Do you feel the play has relevance today?
I think the audience can relate to the time period with the economy today and the lack of jobs. The play also shows the challenges of deaf people communicating in a hearing world, which still exist today.
Being a deaf actor I know it is difficult to find roles. I have a lot of hope when I see more opportunities for deaf actors on TV and stage that more roles will be available in the future.
Which actors do you consider some of your earliest influences? Are there current actors who you admire?
I have admired Marlee Matlin and Leonardo DiCaprio for years. Marlee Matlin is someone that I admire and had an opportunity to meet at a "Dancing with the Stars on Tour" show. She shared her past experiences with me and how her career developed. She gave me advice on how to pursue my career.
Your resume is quite diverse, with productions ranging from 'Romeo and Juliet' to 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. Do you have a preference for dramatic versus comedic roles? Do you have a favorite role that you've played?
I enjoy both kinds of roles. I like drama the best. The role of Tuc is my favorite, communicating with the audience in sign language and feeling comfortable just telling a story. Tiresia in Burial at Thebes, and Drosselyemer in The Nutcracker are roles I have enjoyed playing as well.
Is there a dream role you would like to play one day?
My dream role right now is to become a character on ABC Family's "Switched at Birth." I would love to work with Marlee Matlin and the other deaf actors on the show. I would also like to work with Leonardo DeCaprio in a movie someday.
How does it feel to be making your professional acting debut?
This is such an incredible experience. The people at The Growing Stage, the director and the other cast members, have made this a very enjoyable experience.
The Children's Theatre of New Jersey - The Growing Stage is located in the Historic Palace Theatre on Route 183 in Netcong, New Jersey. MOTHER HICKS is now playing through February 5th with performances Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM. Thursday performances will also feature "Talk-Back Thursday" performances with a special opportunity to interact with the cast following the show.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the TGS Box Office at (973) 347-4946 or logging onto their website at www.growingstage.com.