Jackson Gemborys takes stage in one-man play as Truman Capote
The Theatre Department at Greensboro College proudly presents the Broadway play “Tru” in four shows from Jan. 10-12 in the Annie Sellars Jordan Parlor Theatre of the Main Building at Greensboro College. This play is adapted from the words and works of Truman Capote by Jay Presson Allen and is directed by William “Perry” Morgan Hall, associate professor of theatre at Greensboro College.
“This play takes place right after a chapter of ‘Answered Prayers,’” Hall said. “All of Capote’s friends have abandoned him, and Capote is desperate, drinking and all alone in his New York apartment.”
He said that Jackson Gemborys, a Durham native and Greensboro College senior acting major undergraduate student, is performing this one-man show and taking to the stage for two hours, alone, as Truman Capote.
When Gemborys first learned he had been given the part to play Truman Capote in “Tru,” he said he was very excited, as Capote was such a different person from him. Gemborys knew it would be a beneficial challenge to take him so far out of his comfort zone. Gemborys said he had originally been given the part to play in a class 14 months ago, and his professor asked him to write a proposal to add it to the upcoming season. Gemborys had been working on the play for a year by reading Capote’s books, plays and watching YouTube videos. He said they had been rehearsing a lot since October and was happy for a holiday break to let it marinate.
Gemborys said that “Tru” is a two-act play, and the first scene opens with him sitting and drinking. He said that the more drinks he takes, the more it hits him how Capote was “very gossipy and playful.” But as Capote continues to use drugs and alcohol, Gemborys said he could “feel the weight of what Truman may have been going through.” Gemborys said that Capote was fluid in his movements and that his mind was always racing, so he couldn’t just sit still on stage. He said the Capote character is always doing something different with his movements on stage, such as sitting or standing in different places, pouring himself a drink, or making calls. Gemborys said Hall did a really good job directing him.
Gemborys said that while there are no other actors on stage, there are characters in Truman’s life who are portrayed in voiceovers by actresses: Leah Llewellyn, Mikaela Craft, Kailey Rey and Alex Ansede. Gemborys said to expect music by Louis Armstrong, The Supremes, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra because Capote loved jazz music.
“When Capote’s book, ‘In Cold Blood,’ was published in 1966, it was a big hit about a family of four who was murdered in Kansas in 1959,” Gemborys said. “Capote befriended the two murderers while writing, which was very hard on him because he knew he couldn’t complete the book until they were both executed.”
He said that Capote tried to get back to writing in 1975, but when Esquire published three chapters of “Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel,” it revealed secrets that cost him friendships with a lot of high-end celebrities. Gemborys said in those last nine years of his life, Capote was very lonely, and he wasn’t writing anymore. “He was constantly drinking and taking lots of pills, and some books wrote that he didn’t want to live anymore,” Gemborys said. “It was really sad.”
Gemborys said it took quite a process for him to get into character, but that he can drop into it after he brings up a lot of emotion. He admits that he has to warm up his voice and think about the things Capote was going through to get into character. He said he didn’t have to do that for other characters he has played—he could just walk on stage and do what he had rehearsed. With this role, he said he wants to make sure he is fully ready. Since it’s a one-man show, Gemborys doesn’t have any other actors to play off of, so he has to put all of his trust in what he is doing.
Two of Gemborys’s professional theatre performances include, “Liberty Mountain: The Revolutionary Drama” at the Joy Performance Center and the “Tecumseh!” outdoor drama (as actor and technician for four months) at Sugarloaf Mountain in Ohio. Other theatre credits include “Hamlet;” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Gemborys is also trained in movement, dance and voice. He said he plans to continue his education as a professional actor.
“Truman Capote wrote in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ ‘Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot,’” Gemborys said. “I’m not just doing this for me. I am dedicating it to my professors, my family, my parents, my brothers, and my sister and those I’ve met at college as a ‘thank you’ for all the love and support they have given me. Come out and support local arts in your community, especially at such a small college as Greensboro College.”
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer/editorial/content/copy, creative consultant/branding strategist, communications outreach messenger, poet and emerging singer/songwriter.
“Tru,” Jan. 10-11 at 7:30 p.m. (Fri.-Sat.) and 2 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Jan. 11-12, reserve $10 tickets at (336) 217-7220 (secretary) or email firstname.lastname@example.org, performances are free to Greensboro College students, faculty and staff (with college ID). For more information about Greensboro College Theatre, visit the website.