Oh, the difficult task of bringing the life story of someone pivotal in world history to the stage or screen. Why are the end results so routinely repetitive in structure or endlessly boring in execution?
Well, too many biographies spend so much time on the "big" important events in their subject's life, they leave out the more intimate, reflective moments. We trudge through the early years, the formative years, the married years, the sick years and so on until death.
Charles Smith's play "Free Man of Color" manages to tell the entire thought-provoking story of John Newton Templeton while focusing merely on a few crucial years at college. The West Coast premiere of this unique kind of biography just opened at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.
Directed by Dan Bonnell, this fascinating attempt at explaining the importance of a single man's life eschews the tired trappings of most historical dramas. Playwright Smith has jettisoned all the expected scenes like childhood flashbacks and deathbed confessions, concentrating instead on the brief time during the 1820s when Templeton was poised to become the governor of Liberia.