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Artist Q&A with Stephen Lang

ArtistQ&A
You may know him from his role as Elias Walker in the video game Call of Duty: Ghosts or as Col. Miles Quaritch in AVATAR, but Tony Award-nominated actor and screen star Stephen Lang is also known for his work portraying Babe Ruth and Stonewall Jackson and has acted with the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Quentin Tarantino.  Lang began his career on Broadway and will be bringing his stage adaptation of Beyond Glory to the Center on Thursday, November 8. He took a break from his tour to answer a few of our questions in this Artist Q&A.
 
What made you connect with the stories of these veterans?
The stories these veterans tell, each a Medal of Honor recipient, are the stuff of drama. By turns harrowing, inspiring, intimate, poignant, charming, very funny, deeply personal, unbearably tense and suspenseful, the stories provide very fertile ground for a playwright/actor. The connection I feel towards the men is one of empathy and solidarity. I relate to the simple humanity and deep humility at the core of each of the stories. 
 
Why did you choose to create Beyond Glory as a stage show?
I turned BEYOND GLORY into a theatre piece for at least two reasons. First, I just felt in my gut that they would play beautifully on a stage with a live audience. Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, I wanted to do something I was not certain I had the ability to do. I knew that playing 8 very diverse roles in rapid succession would be both challenging and exhausting, and I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to stretch my power as an actor to the limit. 
 
Why do you think the stories are important to share?
Over the course of more than 400 performances these stories have proven to be worthwhile for both audience and performer. Time and again audience members have told me how moved they were by the show. So many people relate the stories to experiences that family member, a father or a son, had while serving in the military. Often veterans are very reluctant to speak of their experiences in war, and families are learn to respect their silence. Beyond Glory helps people understand the reasons for silence, even as it opens doors for veterans to share. 
 
How did you pick these specific veterans to focus on?
These 8 stories spoke to me very clearly, as if they demanded to be told. There were many other stories as well, but I had to choose and cull in order to serve the format. I wanted as wide a cross section of wars, services, and individuals as I could muster. I wanted to do the best I could to make sure that Beyond Glory represented as much of America as possible. 
 
What do you hope people take away from watching your performance?
Without taking anything for granted, I have performed BEYOND GLORY enough to feel more than a hope that audiences will be moved by the material. Both love and respect for the theatre and the military are implicit in the show and I hope that comes across. The center stage presence of the footlocker represents the juncture, the conjoining of theatre and war, and whether people recognize it or not, I hope it has an effect on them.
 
 
Finish this sentence:
I’m most often recognized from…
Avatar....with Don’t Breathe and Tombstone running close behind.
I can’t travel without my… Levi 527 boot cut jeans and boots. I mean I could but I’d rather not.
My favorite thing to do when I visit a new city is… Check out city hall, parks and museums.
I am excited to visit Wisconsin because… looking forward to cheese curds.
 
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