Bryan James Hamilton is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse. Recently appearing on Bull on CBS, played Andy in Quack by Patrick Gabridge for Nylon Fusion Theatre Co., Humayun in Guards at The Taj by Rajiv Joseph, Frank Woodman in Sonny Under the Assumption, and Gary in the indie film Intrusion. Bryan would like to thank his representation at VGP Artist Management and Take 3 Talent.
WATG: This is your first production with WATG. Welcome Aboard! You first met the fierce team by performing in a reading of this play at The Actors Studio, right? What drew you to Mandi’s play?
Bryan: Yes, this is my first production with this team! I’m happy to be a part of it! My girlfriend Ivette Dumeng was directing the reading at Actors Studio, when they needed a part to be filled last minute, she threw me in there!
My first thought about Mandi’s play, I was reading in bed one night before I even knew I’d be in the reading, was “this is an absolutely insane character” (Austin), and then I made it through the first scene. What really drew me to the play was the action of this story, there’s so much happening all the time, there’s never a lull and that’s very refreshing to see on the stage; there is no opportunity to fall asleep watching this play. This play is on cocaine.
WATG: You hail from the great state of New Jersey. What was it like growing up there? You were pretty close to Pittsburgh as well. Did you travel there often? What was the theatre scene like there?
Bryan: I grew up in Philadelphia and New Jersey, moving around a few times; but mainly in a small, mile long town called Palmyra. We never traveled to Pittsburgh when I was growing up, probably because we’re Eagles fans. Go Birds baby.
The only theatre that I saw growing up was either a high school production that somebody I knew was in (my sister), or occasionally a Broadway musical that my Aunt Alison would get tickets for. Mostly musicals.
WATG: We hear you’re a rock climber. So cool! How long have you been doing that? Any favorite climbs? What advice could you give to aspiring climbers?
Bryan: Yes, I’m a pretty avid climber, specifically bouldering. I’ve been doing it for 5 years now. I spend most of my time at Steep Rock West in Harlem (indoor climbing gym), but I really loved the time I spent at the Showagunks (The Gunks); where I did my first real outdoor climb about a year ago, it was such an amazing experience being on real rock. I climbed some pretty awesome boulders that were risky.
I would recommend starting out in the gym, and giving that a little time before moving outside to real rock. It’s so much fun, and the community is really tight. Also, the climbing culture is exploding right now in NYC (there’s about 5 new gyms built in the last 5 years), it’s cool to be a part of it.
WATG: You’re also a fellow with many tattoos. Each tattoo usually comes with a story behind it. What can you tell us about yours? Any favorites among them? What do they tell us about you?
Bryan: I have about 5 tattoos that cover my left arm, I’m a lefty. I design all of them myself, it usually takes a few months to develop the idea / concept and they are all done by the same artist, my good buddy Eddie Smucygz; we met at neighborhood playhouse. He’s amazing and always asks the right questions that I sometimes overlook in the design.
My tattoos mean a lot to me; they are pieces of my life, experiences, that I decided to hold close. My first tattoo was after my first year of acting school, it’s entirely about my relationship with my father; when I realized I am just like him (I spent time running from this), the core of me. It was a beautiful act of becoming fully aware, that I never wanted to forget.
I also have BEAUTY written in blood red on my inner forearm. I spent 6 months working on Guards at the Taj, daily, in and out of my master class with Richard Pinter (we worked outside daily in a park in Harlem). I wanted to take my acting to the next level in class and my good friend, Ramiq Haris, traveled from Pakistan to do it with me. We finished the full play 5 months into class, working bit by bit, slowly building. We eventually decided to produce it, 4 nights, and were denied the rights to the show. By chance, I was given Rajiv Joseph’s email and it was our last resort, we sent him a cover letter with photos. He replied, giving us the rights and inviting us to a private reading of ‘Guards’ being translated to Russian at Second Stage, where we met him. We talked about how we were going to do the show, all the logistics.
He finally pulled out his phone and showed us a picture asking, “ is this you guys?”. It was a photo someone had snapped of us, rehearsing in the park about 5 months prior, and had sent to him. He knew when we emailed him, it was the two kids in the park working on his show. I’ll never forget that moment, it was meant to be.
WATG: You studied stage combat from various different teachers over the years. You’re also our fearless Fight Capitan for “Leviticus.” Can you tell us a little about your training? Who have you studied with? What are some of your favorite techniques? What drew you to it?
Bryan: I loved mixed martial arts as a teenager and used to fight my best friend, who was 6 feet tall in 6th grade; he picked me up and held me against the wall in the lunch line at school and said, “gimme your lunch money!”. We’ve been friends ever since.
I have trained with Rick Sordelet at the Neighborhood Playhouse; David Debess, Brad Lemons, Danielle Henderson, among others as well. I have dabbled in every facet; to full body falling, rolling, jumping stunts, to knives, daggers, swords, rapiers, fencing, punching, kicking, grabbing, throws, slaps, bites, drags, chokes, staff, gun, etc.
I have pretty extensive training in fencing, because I had a 15-minute-long fight sequence in the show Magic Time in college, so we had to learn all the basics, as well as very complex moves such as “parry and riposte”, “counter attacks”, combined with locks, kicking and punching. We had 4 separate rehearsals a week for a month to prepare the fight. It was very intense and physically demanding, this was probably the most fun I’ve had doing stage combat in a show.
WATG: In addition to stage combat you also have a background in film editing. In fact, you’ve used put those skills to good use by being our sound designer for “Leviticus.” You also started a film editing company called Made By Actors with a group of friends from the Neighborhood Playhouse. Tell us more about that company and what it’s like to be on the other side of the stage/camera. What are some of your favorite projects?
Bryan: It was very hard to get a foothold once I graduated school, half the class leaves NYC for good because they’re from other countries, and also we weren’t exactly taught how to fend for ourselves in this industry, we were taught how to act, not how to get a job. That’s why we created Made By Actors (Michael Debartolo, Adrian Garcia, among others). It was a way to create our own work / art.
It’s a different ballgame on the other side, with similarities. I always kept finding myself trying to get back to acting, at one point I wasn’t acting at all, I was purely writing, filming, editing. I even developed and shot a “mini series” called Jimmy Swan, with 5 episodes on YouTube. It was extremely ambition - a black and white Film Noir about a Japanese detective in NYC (Kazuhiro Imafuku). We thought it was a pretty original idea; I’d actually love to come back to it one day. I was the DP on the project and we only filmed after 11pm, using flash lights for lighting. I edited and sound designed.
WATG: The character you play, Sinead, has the bird’s eye view of this story. Often observing chaos from the outside and having to clean up the mess of those around him. Are you more of an observer like Sinead or do you prefer to be in the middle of the action?
Bryan: I think I am more of an observer in life, I like to watch people and behavior, it fascinates me; the individuality of each person. I’ve always been a type of introvert since I was a kid, but I started bartending about two years ago and that has made me a great conversationalist.
WATG: In a world full of deceit where everyone else is trying to keep up appearances, Sinead is the only character who truly has nothing to hide. He is completely himself, unlike the others around him. How do you relate to this part of Sinead and his journey throughout the play?
Bryan: I am a pretty open book as a person, and I don’t apologize for being myself; I learned that from my acting teacher Richard Pinter. He used to make us say, “I am an actor” in class, and of course the first couple times you say it, you don’t actually mean it. Confidence is the hardest thing to learn and keep. I’ve learned to say it, and really mean it.
I think this links back to Sinead, who is fierce, strong, sexy and sassy. He gets caught up in Austin’s game, begrudgingly, acting as the butler of the house. I think there’s a lot of pain in Sinead, his lover is dying, very quickly.
WATG: What projects are on the horizon for you when you get back from Scotland? Any fun or exciting personal or professional gigs?
There is this project that I am slated for, it’s a film my good friend Mazin Akar wrote. It’s a beautiful love story set against the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon. He envisioned and wrote the role with my face in mind and is currently working on getting it into production. This is probably something I will do years from now, but it is a dream project for me, something that I cannot wait to delve into, and I think this film is going to really hit hard for people, it’s so beautifully written and developed.
Where can people keep up with your latest news online?
Facebook: Bryan Hamilton
“Leviticus” just arrived in Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! Come see us Aug 3-27 at 12pm (except for Tuesdays). Buy tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/leviticus
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