In addition to the piles of real snow accumulating around the Hillsdale campus, an “avalanche of E.E. Cummings” will hit the area on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
Anthony Zerbe, a professional actor best known for performances in the Matrix movies, the 1989 film “License to Kill,” and 1973’s “The Omega Man,” will perform a one-man show based on the poetry of E.E. Cummings in Markel Auditorium at 8 p.m.
“It’s All Done With Mirrors” is the name of the free professional artists series show that’s part of Zerbe’s three-day residency program at Hillsdale College. During his time at the College, Zerbe will give lectures on theatre and film, along with teaching ten one-hour master courses with individual theatre majors.
“He’s toured a lot in his life, both in productions and things he himself has created,” said Zerbe’s agent, Ann Patrice Carrigan. “The way he came to Cummings is someone gave him copy of his poetry when he was on set with ‘Cool Hand Luke.’ He’s done this show for a number of years all over the country.”
Zerbe has taught acting for six to seven years at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City, along with a two-week intensive course at a master’s program at the University of Delaware. He is experienced with young actors as well as professional ones, Carrigan said.
Senior theatre major Mark Keller, who has performed in 14 shows at Hillsdale, is very excited to get the chance to work with Zerbe in a master class.
“I did a little one-on-one coaching in high school for NCFCA interpretive speech, but most of my training in college has been in a group setting. I’ve had a couple workshops with former ‘Days of Our Lives’ star Steve Blackwood, as well as his three-credit Acting for the Camera class,” Keller said. “I’m hoping [Zerbe will] help me improve my monologues, and work with me on how to improve my auditions.”
Sophomore Aaron Pomerantz, who has performed in four Hillsdale performances, is hoping Zerbe will help him discover his “casting type.”
“What I’d like to do is show him my monologues and have him work with me to help me see what I’m better at,” he said. “Professional actors show you all little minute things you never thought about. Even George (Angell) teaches us several methods for acting but says that not every one will be useful to us. You show them what you can do and they help channel where you should put your talent or where you shouldn’t be putting your talent and it really helps you grow.”
When Pomerantz heard Anthony Zerbe was coming to campus, he realized he knew him better than he thought.
“I’ve seen him in a bunch of movies,” he said. “He’s in the Bond movies that I actually like, and he is in ‘The Matrix.’ Once I looked him up on IMDb it was like ‘oh yeah that guy.’”
Along with helping Hillsdale’s theatre students, Zerbe will share his talent with the rest of campus and the Hillsdale community.
“We usually sell out the professional artist series,” Director of Theatre George Angell said. “They’re free for everyone. That’s one of the great things the College does for the public around here. We’re the only cultural game in 60 miles any direction. We provide this stuff free for anyone who wants to come. So if you don’t want to spend 50 bucks to see Anthony Zerbe you can come here.”
Carrigan said Zerbe’s performance is unique from most forms of theatre, as it captures the essence of the ‘truly American’ poetic style that is E.E. Cummings.
“Something about Cummings’ poetry is very theatrical. It’s very difficult to read on the page but [Zerbe] makes it in a way comprehensible,” she said. “It’s an evening that’s consumptive not digestive, meaning, I think, that you grab it and make your own movie in your head and if you miss it you move on and grab the next part.”
This stop at Hillsdale comes after a residency at Florida State University, and after this performance, Zerbe will travel to Sarah State University and Ohio Northern University, Carrigan said. Then, he will shoot a movie, details of which will be released later.
Tickets are available for reservation in the Sage Center for the Arts.