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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Justin Weaks

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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Justin Weaks
Justin Weaks

Today's subject Justin Weaks is currently living his theatre life onstage at Studio Theatre where he plays Omari Joseph in the company's current production of Pipeline. The production runs through February 23rd in Studio's Mead Theatre space. Mr. Weaks will be leaving the show on February 16th to begin performances on his next project.

Justin previously appeared at Studio Theatre in Curve of Departure. He was most recently seen in Fences at Ford's Theatre.

Select local credits include BLKS, Gloria, and Describe the Night at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company where he is a company member); Long Way Down at The Kennedy Center; Gem of the Ocean at Round House Theatre; The Christians at Theater J; Word Becomes Flesh and Still Life With Rocket at Theater Alliance; and Charm at Mosaic Theater Company.

Additional regional and New York credits include work with Ensemble Studio Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Shakespeare & Company, and Barter Theatre. Justin received a Helen Hayes Helen Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Ensemble (Word Becomes Flesh at Theater Alliance) as well as three additional nominations.

When not performing, Justin is a teaching artist in the DMV area.

There is a reason why Justin is so in demand. Look at his list of credits and take a look at how varied they are. This is one talented actor my fellow readers.

Grab yourself some tickets to Pipeline at Studio Theatre and see Justin Weaks and a killer company of actors in a play that will leave you with much to discuss afterwards.

Justin Weaks is living his theatre life to the fullest and area audiences get to reap the fruits of his many talents. It's a win-win situation.

Where did you receive your theatrical training?

I received my training at Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. I'm also a student of Shakespeare & Company's education program; they're based in Lenox, MA.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Justin Weaks
Anearly carrer pic of Justin Weaks in the 2013 Shakespeare & Company production of Les Faux Pas; or the Counterplots.
Photo by Enrico Spada.

What was your first professional job as a performer?

I was an apprentice for the Barter Players of the Barter Theatre during my second year of undergrad. It was a brief summer apprenticeship.

Can you please tell us a little something about the character you play in Pipeline, plus something about the show in general?

I play Omari Joseph; a high school student coming into consciousness after an altercation with one of his teachers leaves his life and future hanging in the balance. This play takes a look at our public school system and the school-to-prison pipeline that threatens the lives of young Black and Brown men and women all over this country. It's also about the love shared between a mother and her son.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Justin Weaks
L-R Andrea Harris Smith and Justin Weaks in the Studio Theatre production of Pipeline.
Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

What was it about the script of Pipeline that made you say "yes!" to the project?

Dominique Morisseau's writing. She hails from Detroit, the birthplace of Motown. There's music all up and through her writing. It's music I've wanted to sing for a while now. I see so many Omaris and Jasmines every day as I get on the buses and metros in DC. I wanted to be able to humanize the young men that are often looked upon as the rottweilers of our society-"dangerous" to the eye, but children reaching out to be heard and understood underneath an often hardened exterior.

What do you think the audience will take away with them after viewing Pipeline?

I don't know what they'll take away. I hope people leave the play reflecting on the country's education system; their own education as well. I hope it gives them opportunity to reevaluate what they were taught and how they were taught it. I hope it gives them a different perspective on how they view young Black and Brown boys and men.

Of all the places in the country to work as a performer, why have you chosen DC as your primary theatrical home?

Washington, DC really has its hand on the pulse on the country's collective consciousness. It's our nation's capital but also an Arts capital. There's so much vital work being produced that challenges how we think and operate. It's an exciting and electric place to work as an artist. There's been so much change even in the short time I've been here.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Justin Weaks
Jusrtin Weaks in the Kennedy Center World Premiere production of
Long Way Down.
Photo by Yassine El Mansouri.

You were the sole performer in a TYA show at Kennedy Center called Long Way Down. Can you please talk about the experience of putting that show together? Was it anymore scary being the only one onstage for the whole show?

Tuh! You really come face to face with yourself as an actor and performer when tasked with doing a solo piece. It requires one to step far outside of their comfort zone and puts extra emphasis on clarity of storytelling. You have no crutches or anything. I had no props, no scene partners, and the set was just plexi screens and the stage. Timothy Douglas, a mentor and friend of mine, was the director and I trust him beyond measure. It remains a highlight of my career so far.

After Pipeline finishes what does 2020 hold in store for you?

You'll just have to wait and see. We'll just have to wait and see.

Special thanks to Studio Theatre's Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Mike Fila for his assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.

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