TWO MORE WEEKS OF "ANNIE GET YOUR GUN" AT GOODSPEED OPERA HOUSE!
JAMES BEAMAN WILL PLAY THESEUS IN "THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN" AT FOLGER THEATRE IN WASHINGTON, DC ON JULY 26.
This week I decided to do a special Father's Day blog post. After five or six years not having seen each other, my Dad and I recently reunited for a nice visit at his remote country home in the Berkshires. Due to his advanced age and numerous health challenges, my Dad doesn't venture far from his place out in the woods. Consequently, it can be difficult to visit with him unless one drives out there, and in recent years, what with touring and other commitments, I have not had the opportunity. So it was a special treat to use my day off this week and drive out to beautiful Charlemont, MA to see him and catch up.
My father was a scenic designer and master scenic artist for over 30 years, and taught design in the theatre department at Boston University.
He is one of the last exponents of the traditional manner of scene painting (which he jokingly refers to as "18th century" scenic art), creating multi-dimensional tromp l'oeil illusions with only paint on canvas. It would not be an overstatement to say that Don Beaman is a genius, and that his brilliant talent inspired numerous successful designers and scenic artists over the course of several generations. His work is in scene design text books; designers like Eugene Lee credit him with providing formative training for them. You can imagine the kind of colorful childhood I enjoyed, spending hours with him in his basement paint studio at home, at his drafting table at BU, and in the various paint studios where he created his magic, painting enormous theatrical sets and backdrops. Dad is an expert on art history, theatre history, architecture, life drawing and numerous other disciplines related to his art. He has an extraordinary mind and a wealth of knowledge at his fingertips.
In addition to his work in the theatre, he has also applied both his intellect and his artistry to the study of ancient civilizations, esotericism, and spirituality, and he has written multiple volume texts on ancient symbolism, as well as created his own Tarot card deck, The Tarot of Saqqara, inspired by ancient Egypt. This latter project resulted in a series of enormous canvases he painted for each of the major Tarot cards. Has has also painted numerous works reflecting his interest in the occult, pagan ritual and ancient spiritual rites. In short, my Dad is a brilliant man, and it was so good to reconnect with him. He has promised me a couple of his large paintings for my bare walls in New York City and I plan to get back up there before "Annie Get Your Gun" closes to claim these masterpieces.
My relationship with my Dad has been like many others--complicated, fraught with some disappointment, disillusionment, and disconnection. Perhaps it is the gift of getting older, but as the years pass I remember the good more than the negative, and acknowledge the incredible influence he has had on me creatively, aesthetically, and the degree of appreciation he has imparted to me for history, tradition, art, and culture. Because of my Dad I have a working knowledge of many periods of art and architecture; I possess facts and trivia about the history of the theatre and the many personalities who peopled it over the centuries; due to his love of music, particularly the American Songbook and the musical theatre traditions, and his extensive collection of albums, I have a deep appreciation for the traditions of American music. He inspired me to strive for artistry and excellence in my work, insisting on the best in myself, and leaving no stone unturned in my thirst to know and understand everything I can about my profession. The legacy he has provided me with is priceless. A theatre artist could not have chosen two more brilliant creative spirits as my parents and I am about as lucky as any actor could be. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I will continue to be the best I can be.