Saturday, November 24, 2007

Terakoya - 1976

Here's something from the Leiter Family Archives that most of my friends might not know about. Back in the Fall of 1976, my dad, Samuel L. Leiter, who at the time was Professor of Theater at Brooklyn College (later to be chair of the dept. until retiring in February, 2007), translated and directed a production of the Japanese Kabuki play, Terakoya. Around the same time, his first (of many) books was published - The Art Of Kabuki, Famous Japanese Plays In Translation, of which Terakoya was one. For a synopsis of the storyline for Terakoya, click on this link: Terakoya Synopsis For the role of the young prince, Kan Shûsai, I was recruited. At the time, one of my father's best and most promising theater students was the yet to be famous TV actor, Jimmy Smits. Jimmy played my father in the play. I have many great memories of working on the show, in rehearsal, getting to put my own make-up and just being around the set and working with all the actors. It was the only show I ever did; later as a student myself at Brooklyn College, I took a couple of acting classes for fun. Here's the only known surviving photo of me in make-up. It was scanned from a pretty beat up Polaroid. The video included here is from a performance of the play that we put on in Brooklyn College's television studios. It was intended to be shown on their cable access TV station I think, but I'm not sure if it ever aired. Unfortunately, the entire show hasn't survived the years - only about 45 min of it still exists. The voice-over narration is by my dad. Represented here is my entire on-stage appearence. I'll try and get some of Jimmy Smits performance up soon. A few brief clips of it were shown on some early 90's TV shows of the 'before they were stars' variety. As I don't have DVD editing capabilities (or at least don't know how to edit a DVD!) I've filmed this off of my TV, hence the slightly shaky camerawork. Hopefully I'll be able to upgrade the video down the line.


jason quinones said...

you're a braver man than me justin! i would never post any childhood pics of myself!

cool story too. sounds like you an interesting childhood!

Everybody's gotta be in a Gang said...

Looks cool- do you have the whole thing somewhere?

Everybody's gotta be in a Gang said...

Did you ever want to do any more acting after that?

The Keeper's Notes said...

Hey! Comments! Thanks guys! I've got a bunch of kid pics on my My Space page, not to mention the pic of me with my toys in Japan at age 6 or 7 on I'm happier with the way I looked as a kid than nowadays!!

Dan - I've got about the first 45 min of the show...somehow over the years the rest taped over or lost somehow, unfortunately. Luckily, most of Jimmy Smits performance is intact - at least his most memorable scene. I'm gonna have to upload that now that I know someone has actually taken a look at this page!

The only other real acting I did after this was a couple of acting classes I took in college. Just a few scenes from a David Mamet play and an older play from the 30's called 'The Golden Boy', about a boxer, that I performed with fellow students in front of the class. But that was it. I enjoyed it, but it was more for just fun.