This Spotlight focuses on Barry Brisco, an actor who has traveled the world touring with shows and had just started working on his first TV series when the shutdown forced the production to close down. The delay has also put a damper on his plans to produce a play he wrote for this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Barry Brisco (Barry): I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts Management and lived in New York City for 15 years doing theater. Most recently, I was on tour in Switzerland with “Oh La La Circus” and was a Las Vegas performer with Rich Binning in the two-man hit show Puppetry of the Penis which we took to Australia and Tasmania, playing in over 50 cities across the country.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?
(Barry): I had just booked my first leading role in a TV series. We were shooting the episodes and were about two and a half episodes in when the production just committed suicide; literally dropping dead right in front of me.
(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?
(Barry): Due to circumstances, everything was done so abruptly, literally done via email with a “to be continued” type of notice. We all expressed our remorse to each other and our gratitude for all the hard work that everybody was putting in. And then nothing…
(SB): Are plans in place to resume production at a future date?
(Barry): As of yet, nothing has been completely canceled. But nobody knows. And so many people were involved, and none of us know what’s going to happen next.
(SB): I don’t think anyone does right now. Speaking of the future, what productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
(Barry): Everything. I have plans to produce a play that I wrote for this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival. called Love is a Battlefield. But now the Fringe Festival isn't happening until October, if it can, and now the money is part of my emergency fund. So, I have no idea if I'm going to be able to produce it now, nor do I have no idea if my cast is going to be available. Or if the funding is still going to be there when the Fringe finally does take place. I have no idea of anything. I don't even know if we're going to be able to come out of the house, let alone have rehearsal and produce a play.
(SB): It’s so difficult on all of us, this new and so uncertain reality. But being creative is always a certainty for those involved with theatre. So how are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(Barry): I am taking full advantage of watching every single Broadway musical that I can possibly watch thanks to a link I found on Facebook that said you can watch Hamilton and other Broadway musicals free of charge. And Hamilton came up first so of course I watched it. And then I watched Wicked and then Heathers. I tried to share the same link with everyone, but it seems to only work for me. So - wake me when it's over.
It’s amazing how much information is available online, so much so that no artist or actor should ever even have time to be bored during this quarantine. In fact, there's so much stuff on the internet I don't even have time to look at it all. So, go back to the basics if you don't think you have anything to do and revisit the artist way.
As a writer and an actor, I've always self-isolated and quarantined to do work, and I have a great dog companion who means the world to me. So lucky enough, it's really no big deal for me to stay home alone right now. Right before we were all sent to our rooms to think about what we've done to the planet Earth, I had a meeting and scored a wonderful manager. And I have an audition - in Drag. So, I get to play RuPaul's Drag Race for the next couple of days while I'm learning my audition lines and pulling together my look.
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(Barry): Learn your craft. Ask questions. Join groups. Do not cut yourself off because you are an artist who definitely needs its audience. Clean your house. Throw away all of that crap that needs to be thrown away. Get your paperwork and your files and every single thing that you can possibly think of in order. Including you. Pull it together so you don't return with excuses. You will return ready to kill your next role. Get yourself ready for anything. I learned that in the book Ready for Anything. Such a good read.
In closing, I offer a quote from Effie White. "And I am telling you I'm not going, even though the rough times are showing. There's just no way, there's no way. I'm staying and you're going to love me."
This too shall pass, family.... let's stay in touch:
This article first appeared on Broadway World.