Robert Scott Smith has played gay characters for Plan-B in BASH: LATTERDAY PLAYS, MARRY CHRISTMAS and, most recently, THE ICE FRONT.
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One of my jobs as an actor is to create a believable character under imaginary circumstances. There is no requirement that I have to have experienced, in real-life, that character’s particular given circumstances. Now, I could choose to be Daniel Day-Lewis and immerse myself into the role by becoming a carpenter or I could just use my imagination. This same imagination that I have to use all the time when it comes to playing straight. I’ve gotten so good at it that many people say to me, ‘you sure you aren’t straight?’, to which my internal response is, ‘I think that’s supposed to be a compliment.’
Over my 17 years as a professional actor I have only played six LGBTQ+ identified characters, three of them at Plan-B. One of those was actually closeted and played right into the trope that closeted gay men often gay bash.
LGBTQ+ characters have come a long way since that role and one such role was Anders in THE ICE FRONT by Eric Samuelsen, produced this season by Plan-B. During the rehearsal process I was speaking with our director, Jerry Rapier, about the relief I felt as an actor that I could just play this role without having to play into the narrative, ‘Are you sure you aren’t straight?’ I’ve spent my entire life always having to look over my shoulder, following an instinct to protect myself, to act straight. It’s a constant. In this role I was able to let go of that constant and just play the character. To tell his story. A story that is completely different than mine. Yes, I had to use my imagination, but I didn’t have to use that instinct to protect myself. I could just act.