A SYMPHONY FOR PORTLAND: Isaac Williams

Interview by Jen Bush

A compelling new musical, A Symphony for Portland will be opening in New York City in mid-August.  Meet Isaac Williams.  He is a member of the cast.  Mr. Williams is interested in using his artistic gifts to highlight and enact change for social issues.  “My name is Isaac Williams. I’m a New-York based actor from Missouri State University. My goal as an artist is to spread awareness and invoke action on a variety of issues and topics. Creating a show with a community is a warm feeling that can only be created in these spaces.” 

Mr. Williams customizes his creative process for each specific project.  It’s based on genre and time period of the production.  The character work he does is always consistent.  “My creative process changes slightly depending on a few different aspects: is the piece modern or classical, fictional or nonfictional, a play or musical, etc.  However, for every show, I will always create a character bio; the script offers very little when you think about everything that makes a person, a person. Characters represent real people with real issues; this is why it’s important to make characters real with biographies.”

Singing on a New York stage is a magical experience.  Being with a talented ensemble while singing on a New York stage is a bonus.  These were the things that attracted Mr. Williams to this production.  “What initially drew me to this play was the ensemble. I’ve sung in choir throughout college and wanted to be apart of a small ensemble again. Surprisingly, I was called back to read for Jesse and was cast for him. Singing on a New York stage in any capacity is what really drew me to this musical.”

Regardless of the subject matter, Mr. Williams feels a responsibility to craft an authentic fully realized character.   He has the utmost respect for the character he is portraying.  “I feel an immense responsibility to protect any character with any subject matter. Learning about the people who are directly and indirectly affected by the subject matter is vital. If you do not know how people are affected by specific issues, we are doing a disservice to them.”

Mr. Williams feels that though Covid is not over, art can prevail safely.  “Covid will always be a part of our society. As long as we are taking necessary precautions, I think it is a good thing to keep creating art.  Safety is our number one priority.”

People in the performing arts as well as audience members have definitely envisioned what theatre should look like post-Covid.  There is a strong consensus among the cast that theatre needs more diversity.  Mr. Williams agrees and feels that with health and safety protocols in place, theatre should look the same as before Covid ever existed.  “Theatre continues to change as we continue to challenge the systems that are in place. Theatre should look diverse, feel diverse, and sound diverse. Other than more secure safety precautions, theatre should look the same post-covid.”

Mr. Williams is not sure what’s next for him.  He is open to working in many genres of the performing arts and is looking forward to collaborating with fellow talented artists.  “Who knows what’s next? I audition for films, musicals, and plays. I am currently looking for representation as a new york based performer. Whatever comes next, I hope I am able meet new people and create art in a safe, diverse, and inclusive space.” 

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