Jay Perry has appeared in Plan-B’s TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY, FACING EAST, THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, all five RADIO HOURs, a couple of SLAMs, the Script-In-Hand Series, SHE WAS MY BROTHER and GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL!
Something like FACING EAST doesn’t come around every day. But from November 2006 through August of 2007, the stars aligned and I was honored with a role that altered me forever.
The role of Marcus came at a time when my life was in flux. I had been running an eBay business that had started to run me, but I’d been doing some acting to keep the muscles warm and was dreaming of deeper, more fulfilling experiences in life. I’d just started dating the amazing woman who’s now my fiance, Daisy, and was on the phone with her the day I was packing up my office and closing up shop on the business for good. She suggested that I take the advice my dad had given me years before to “Just follow your bliss, son,” and I was looking forward to a change. I remember asking the universe for a chance to do something really great that day and Plan-B answered. In spades.
Jerry had asked me to play Marcus in a staged reading of FACING EAST in February of 2006 and after the performance I went home and was overcome with emotion. I cried my eyes out. I don’t normally go home and sob after a reading (well, yes I do, but that’s between me and my psychologist) but the piece was incredibly intense and the audience talkback was breathtaking. I had no way of knowning then that the reading would beget two sold-out productions in Salt Lake and dreamlike off-Broadway and San Francisco runs. All within a year.
Marcus seemed to fit me very well at the time. I found him very accessible and there was a kinship almost from the start. I knew that I would have a difficult time going into his despair and rage night after night, but I remembered some advice I got from a great teacher. Essentially it breaks down to a person in a high-stakes situation usually doing what he thinks is right, no matter how it manifests. If I hadn’t connected myself to Marcus with a deep, immediate need to help his lover’s parents understand their son better, if I had only connected to him with the hatred he felt toward them for their bigotry, Marcus would have taken a very hard toll on me over that year. Playing him reinforced in me the power of love as a motivating force in life and in approaching character.
To say that Marcus was my most memorable Plan-B role is putting it mildly. You hear people say this all the time, but it really did change my life. One night after a performance in Salt Lake I remember a Mormon family sitting together in the lobby at the Rose Wagner talking with their gay loved one, holding each other, crying, healing. I remember thinking, “Right, well I guess I can check the ‘deeper, more fulfilling experience in life’ box off the bucket list.” What anÂ amazing year. It was really tough and supremely rewarding and it absolutely rocked my world. I was truly honored to play Marcus and am forever and ever grateful to Plan-B for the experience. It blossomed into the mostÂ unexpectedly, perfectly, abundantly beautiful manifestation of a dream. It taught me that everything is possible. And to follow Dad’s advice.
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