By Dwight Hobbes
Terry Bellamy is one of the strongest actors to tread a Twin Cities stage and, for that matter, burns the shoes off in more than a few national names. Currently, he stars as Malcolm X in The Meeting at the History Theater. Terry Bellamy spoke on his craft and was candid about, among other things, his departure from Penumbra. Terry Bellamy is one of the strongest actors to tread a Twin Cities stage and, for that matter, burns the shoes off in more than a few national names. If you want to talk credits, merely a partial citing lists: Chicago's famed Goodman Theater, Baltimore's Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Repertory Company and an Off-Broadway stint in Walkers. That's only out of town. In the Twin Cities, we're talking The Guthrie Theater, Children's Theatre Company, Mixed Blood Theatre and, of course, his strongly acclaimed tenure as a founding member of Penumbra Theatre Company. Currently, he stars as Malcolm X in The Meeting at the History Theater. Terry Bellamy spoke on his craft and was candid about, among other things, his departure from Penumbra.
Pictured: Terry Bellamy (right) as Malcom X and Darien Johnson as Dr. King in The Meeting
INSIGHT NEWS: You didn't get your reputation and track record as a strong actor by reaching in a Cracker Jack box.
TERRY BELLAMY: No, I didn't. Worked hard. Still work hard.
IN: You're portraying Malcolm X.
TB: Yes. Definitely.
IN: How do you feel about doing that?
TB: I've been playing Malcolm, I've done this play a couple of times. Many years. At American History Theater, which is now History Theater. Anyways, it's pertinent today. We could say the cliché things. [But important] is the life of these men. Both of them have flawed perspectives, but they were products of their time. And were in need, out of those times that were turbulent and adversarial, to address the issues that [needed to be] addressed. Right now we're going through things where we need to address what's on today.
IN: Any more on that?
TB: I've had a great opportunity to be on stage in many different roles. I understand the history. I understand my history. So that is an advantage.
IN: Having played this character, did you find something fresh to bring to it?
TB: There's the character in the play and there's Malcolm the man. There're many layers. We live in a time, man, where little substance is applied. People hustle and bustle just to get through life. So many things are taken for granted. Like the movement and the struggle that made it possible for the things we got going today. We got kids out there who don't understand it. Prior to the generations that kind of sprang out of the '80s, I knew of no other African Americans on the whole who ignored what preceded them. There's an overwhelming need to provide history, understand. It's not about playing this character for the umpteenth time. Last time I played Malcolm was a while ago. It's about why this play is pertinent. How you convey the essence of these issues and apply them to what's going on today. Is anyone addressing social issues anymore? I don't know. You tell me. What is your opinion on that?
IN: Addressing social issues with any integrity has become extinct.
TB: That's why this play and these characters, these things, are important.
IN: You've worked with strong directors, not the least being Marion McClinton and, for that matter, your brother Lou Bellamy.
TB: Yep, that I have. Some strong producers, too.
IN: Care to reflect?
TB: Theatre in some ways has changed. It a way it has not; the classic fundamentals endure as a measuring post, a style.
IN: The first show I saw you in, my first time to Penumbra, was Two Trains Running