We asked actor Zachary Andrews, who plays Chuck in the world premiere of Andrew Rosendorf’s Paper Cut, to write about one of the central questions in this play: “What does it mean to be a man?” Here, Zach shares his thoughts on this complex question.
I hope that if you're a male in 2018, that you too are actively exploring the question of "What does it mean to be a man?" For me, I have been considering that question since I got into the theater. I know nothing about cars. I'd rather be rehearsing Shakespeare on a Sunday than watching football. I'm powered by yoga and Kale. What does any/all of that say about me as a man?
Both Sommer and I are having our first same-sex stage kiss in this show. We're being asked to live truthfully in the circumstances of a war in which we never fought. I am pretending to be a soldier. What does that say about me as a man?
I'm an artist, so maybe the criteria is different, but to me, this rehearsal process is asking me to work from the most fearless and powerful parts of myself. In choosing to stand for Chuck, I am being tasked with playing a soldier in the 82nd Airborne. At the same time this is a story the damage of war, and of "Don't ask don't tell," and the golden thread weaving through Chuck's track is a love story born in a world where the daily threat of bombs exploding under your feet is literal.
I don't know. I don't know if I've learned more about "being a man" from this process, but it has certainly reinforced the values I hold most dear. I hold myself accountable to push for every last ounce of authenticity I can find in this story. I bring all my training, professionalism, discipline, empathy, and creative energy into the rehearsal room. Every day, rain or shine, in sickness or in health. I check my own ego in favor of supporting the playwright, the director, and my fellow ensemble. I take risks, I accept feedback, I adapt and adjust. I am generous.
Or at least I always try to be. And maybe that's where my ideals and those of Chuck mingle most closely. I think for both he and I, the lifelong pursuit to be your best self, regardless of circumstance or setback, is at the core of being a man.
Photo Credit: George Lange