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An Interview with Floyd King – “Don’t Fear”

Floyd King as Geronte in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Heir Apparent, directed by Michael Kahn. Photo by Scott Suchman.

An STC Affiliated Artist and D.C. favorite, Floyd King is one-of-a-kind. He is not only an actor, but also an instructor of STC’s Master Acting Classes  and STC’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University. For anyone who hasn’t seen his work, comedy is his fortè.

King’s childhood was important in helping him become the actor he is today. He would always perform, observing everyone and everything around him. He saw films and performed them. He’d come home from school and pretend to be a teacher. Immense curiosity about what motivated things, why people had particular thoughts and made certain choices, had always filled his head growing up. Psychology was a huge subject of interest for King.

Recently, King taught a monologue workshop that met every Saturday morning for four weeks. Students brought in a classical and contemporary monologue and worked individually with King to hone their delivery and embrace the character’s given circumstances. Before signing up for an acting class, specifically this monologue workshop, King suggests that students have a basic understanding of acting and its vocabulary (objective, tactics, point of view, etc). When a student is working with him, he deals with the person’s strengths and weaknesses. When asked the question, “What if someone is hesitant about taking an acting class?” King responded, “Fear is the actor’s enemy.” He emphasizes that there is nothing to fear, and if a person does have fear, then he or she should use it. At STC there is a class for everybody—beginners to the more advanced. STC offers various classes from a blood workshop to a Shakespearean acting class. King was also enthusiastic about the other educational opportunities that STC offers, including Camp Shakespeare and SHAKESPEARIENCE. It teaches youths the great vocabulary of Shakespeare and helps them appreciate language and stories. “A play is to be acted,” King mentioned.

What makes a great actor? To King, being a great actor is having a great imagination. The person should have a curiosity about him/herself. A great actor is “self aware, not self conscious.” King quoted Michael Kahn, with whom he has worked with numerous times, “It takes 20 years to be an actor.” It takes a certain kind of growth, a way of thinking and maturing with that knowledge instinctively. After teaching a class, King hopes students learn to be more confident and less fearful. For King, the rehearsal process is his favorite part of a production. It’s fascinating for him to witness the discovery he and the others actors make as they bring the text of a play to life.

With Shakespeare specifically, he wants students to have a greater understanding of the text and appreciate the vocabulary. What intrigues King about Shakespeare is his choice of words. King mentioned the fact that people don’t say what they mean anymore because they can’t find the words to express their feelings, but with Shakespeare, “there is actually a word for what you mean.” One of his favorite STC productions he’s been in is Twelfth Night.  

What is King’s advice to an aspiring actor? “If what I say matters, then you shouldn’t do it.” He then went on to explain that he someone asks the question of whether or not they should be an actor, then the career is probably not for them. It shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If you want to do, then do it. Other than that, study, audition, work hard and keep on keeping on. But King’s most important advice is this: “A person must get rid of any negative thoughts and unnecessary fears. Don’t fear.”

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