Charles Dutton is explaining the difference between theater and chitlin’ circuit plays.
Charles Dutton plays a strict drama instructor in the remake of Fame that premieres in September. Charles said his character is a no-nonsense type of teacher who wants young people to know that acting is a craft that should be taken seriously.
“It had a lot to do with my own beliefs about acting. I think the profession has been bastardized over the past 20 years simply because everybody and anybody thinks they can do it. Every rapper, every singer, every athlete, every celeb personality thinks they can be an actor.”
Charles said you don’t have to be an actor to do film and television.
“A trained monkey can do a performance. But on the stage you got to know what you’re doing because it’s a craft. You have to move people,” Charles explained. So what about the many songbirds flocking to tour with plays by the likes of Je’Caryous Johnson (“Love Overboard”) or David E. Talbert (“Love in The Nick of Tyme”)?
“Well, first of all you can’t call that theater. Every play ain’t theater, baby,” Charles explained. “Real theater is about advancing civilization. Real theater changes people’s heads and hearts when they’re in the audience.”
He said theater goes beyond clichéd characters, power ballads and bad writing that is commonly found on the chitlin’ circuit. “The problem with that is that there’s a whole generation and a whole segment of Black folks who think that’s what theater is,” he said. “And I don’t mind going on record to say that, the chitlin’ circuit plays are not the real thing.”
Charles suggests that people check out regional playhouses or some of the great playwrights from the ’60s, for a taste of the real thing.
– Sabrina M. Parker