Actor Interview: BRIAN ANTHONY WILSON - SWEAT at Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

SWEAT Pulitzer Prize Winning Play Interview
Tinsel & Tine

Chats with Philly Favorite


appearing in SWEAT

By Le Anne Lindsay, Editor

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage's work SWEAT plays at Philadelphia Theatre Company  October 12- November 4, 2018.

Synopsis: Reading, Pennsylvania. A valley town of fiercely proud families who worked for generations in the plants and factories of a thriving county seat. Unions rule, well-paying jobs are coveted and politics are personal. As industries disappear, the men and women of Reading are rendered powerless as they watch their income, legacy and relationships follow suit. Based on Lynn Nottage’s extensive research in Reading, Sweat shares the fear, tragedy and hopefulness of a community being forced to accept inevitable change.

I got a chance to interview one of the cast members Brian Anthony Wilson who plays Evan in the play.  Anyone who's familiar with the Film and Theater scene in Philadelphia knows BAW, he's a constantly working actor, not just in Philly, but it's this city which gave him his start and where he still loves to perform.

T&T: So let’s start by you telling me a bit about your character in the play, Evan, I know he’s a parole officer, how does he fit into this community? And also, since you have played many roles in Law Enforcement what’s been your biggest take away on the other side, considering how many people in black communities feel about police?

Brian Anthony Wilson: To me, Evan is like a 'theatrical book end', in this play. Although he interacts with two of the main characters, he does so in an isolated space, away from the other inhabitants of this world. He is not part of their 'working at the plant, hanging at the bar', daily existence.

My biggest take away is that there are a lot good Cops, risking their lives & protecting us, but the small percentage of the ones with their own agenda, biases & power trips, are a scary lot; that have decimated & terrorized many communities that are 'poor & brown'. We P.O.C. have a fractured relationship with law enforcement that needs to be repaired, through mutual understanding, respect & better training.

T&T: Once upon a time you could simply say I’m not a person who expresses political views or I don’t really have a strong opinion on social change. Now since 2016 it hard to stay in that lane even if you want to with so much seeming to be going backwards and so many issues on the table. Lynn Nottage said she wrote SWEAT because she wanted to tell an American story and put characters into dialogue around this fractured city in which everyone was hurting in isolation. A lot of that isolation is what helped put Donald Trump in the White House. So to use the phrase I hear a lot anymore let’s ”unpack” some of this, what thoughts do you have either concerning these issue in the play and/or any political views you feel comfortable expressing and/or how economic changes have affected you as a working actor…

BAW: Some of these issues are addressed in Lynn's gorgeous dialogue and some are addressed in Justin's brilliant, nuanced & thoughtful directions, including some cleverly placed sound cues. It really baffles me that so many hard working, rural folks believe that a billionaire, who would turn the majority of them away, if they showed up at one his plush resorts, actually cares about them.

T&T: You’re most famous for playing Det. Vernon Holley in all 5 seasons of “The Wire” I’m sorry to say, I know how hot that show was and still is on Netflix, but I’ve just never seen it. I did see you most recently in “Oceans 8”, and of course “Creed”, "Silver Linings Playbook”, “Limitless” which were all filmed in Philly. And if I’m at a film festival your face seems to pop up in several shorts and indies. But you’re IMDB is full of stuff coming out. What can you tell me about some of these movies and roles?

BAW: The Independents lost funding. Not sure what's going on with The Unholy Disciple but its a very intense, disturbing thriller, looking for funding.
  • Stages (Web Series ; The Mayor)
  • Right Before Your Eyes (Spiritual Genre ; Enlightened Counselor)
  • The Demon I Cling To (Murder Mystery ; High School Principal)
  • Room 9 (Indie Horror Film; Hotel Manager with a troubled past)
  • A Cupful of Crazy (Sexy Thriller ; Psychiatrist)
  • When The Moon is Twice As Big (Latino Musician/Best Friend of Lead Male)
  • Crooked And Narrow (Dirty Cop)
  • GLASS (SPLIT sequel ; Facility Guard)

T&T: I saw an interview where you said one of your favorite Classic Hollywood actors was Cary Grant. Growing up he was mine too. Although, he became a little tarnished for me when I watched this documentary call “Women He’s Undressed” a biography about Orry-Kelly a famous costume designer, he and Grant were roommates and perhaps more in New York and set out for Hollywood together, but Grant dumped Kelly shortly after arriving, it seemed to get ahead and deny any rumors of homosexuality. Still, I agree, Cary Grant’s effortless acting and comedic timing will forever be admired. Name your top 5 Cary Grant movies?

BAW: Top 5 Cary Grant Films:
1. That Touch of Mink (Doris Day, Gig Young)
2. It Takes A Thief (Grace Kelly)
3. North By Northwest (Eva Marie Saint)
4. Bringing Up Baby(Katharine Hepburn)
5. Charade (Audrey Hepburn)

Le Anne's (T&T): 1. Indescreet (Ingrid Bergman) I've watch this at least 15x  2. North by North West (Eva Marie Saint)  3. The Philadelphia Story (Katharine Hepburn)  4. House Boat (Sophia Loren)  5. Tie btw His Girl Friday (Rosalind Russell) & I Was A Male War Bride (Ann Sheridan)

T&T: And finally we get to food!

What type of hoagie do you order during Wawa Hoagiefest?

BAW: Honey Turkey Breast, on wheat shortie, with spinach, tomatoes, lite onions, lite mayo, sweet peppers, pickles & pepper jack cheese 😁.

T&T: You’re on set a lot, what movie/show do you recall getting the best Kraft Services

BAW: "Nick's" * "The Postman". $80M Budget (in 1997 Dollars!). Fresh Pasta Station, a meat/fish/chicken dish, every day. Amazing salad bar/deserts. M. Night used him a few times as well, simply Amazing 😉!!!

T&T:  Favorite spot in your own neighborhood?

BAW: I live in South Jersey - Bangkok City in Voorhees, N.J.

T&T:  Any shout out you may want to give to PTC about being back on their stage...

BAW: I previously worked for PTC at Plays & Players, when I potrayed "King Hedley II", in 2003 (Top 3 FAVE Theatrical roles ; the other 2 are SCOTUS Thurgood Marshall in "Thurgood" & Boy Willie, in "The Piano Lesson"), so, thrilled to finally work on 'this' stage and to be back at PTC!

[Side note: My questions were designed for an in-person on camera interview in which Brian would have been able to further elaborate, however, my videographer bailed on me at the last minute, so we had to switch to an online interview. If anyone knows of a videographer/editor looking to add to their reel, I'd like to work with someone for future film and theater interviews in Philly]

Coincidentally, my sister,  LeVonne Lindsay is Costume Designer on this show! Check out some of her talented sketches (click images to enlarge)

Philly theater Costume Designer
Sweat Play in Philadelphia

Tickets are on Sale now!

SWEAT Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize!
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Justin Emeka
Scenic Design by Christopher Ash
Costume Design by LeVonne Lindsay
Lighting Design by Aly Docherty
Sound Design by Christopher Colucci
Props by Mark Williams
Fight Direction by Rick Sordelet

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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