Meet the hope and heart of our Western!
One character in our production represents a piece of history often overlooked in the great Western migration. African-American settlers also came West from the Deep South, convinced by promoters of all-black Western towns that prosperity could be found there. Our play doesn't tell us exactly how Jim's family came to live in TwoTrees, however, the playwright is historically accurate in including Jim Mosten, (played by Terrance Smith), as an important symbol of hope and heart in a land where survival disregarded such values.
In, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, opening at Town Hall Theatre on Oct. 1, 2016, Jim is offered the chance for an education, a rare opportunity in a time and place where physical labor and guns solved daily problems.
Actor, Terrance Smith explains, "Today, in this country, it’s every person’s right to get an education; to better themselves. Jim, however, happened to come along right after the Civil War and at a time where the 13th Amendment, which gave slaves their freedom, was still in its infancy. While the idea of bettering oneself through education has always been a promising concept, back then, people of color were locked into this mindset of servitude; that a person of color wasn’t fit to be more than someone’s servant or a laborer. And it was also at a time where anyone who dared to challenge that ideology, was subject to severe brutality."
What do you love about this character?
I love that Jim serves as a symbol of hope for people of color back then. It used to be foolish and often dangerous for people of color to be educated, especially amongst white folks. But despite this, Jim still accepted this opportunity on the whim that there was a chance for more; that there was a chance for better. His story is living proof that being born a different color and in a poor town, does not limit ones capacity to achieve greatness.
How is this character like you?
I really see a lot of Jim’s good nature in myself. Like him, I love to make people happy and in tense situations I do my best to keep the peace. I do wish that I had his sharp memory however. It would have come in handy during rehearsal!
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
Being that this show is a period piece, staying true to the era is a big challenge. Things like: How did people talk back then? How did they look? What were the events taking place at the time and how does it impact not only the plot, but the characters? All of these elements play an important role in bringing this show to life. There’s more to the work then just memorizing lines.
Without giving anything away, what’s your favorite line of dialogue?
“…If I were you and I were having dinner here, I’d avoid the pickles.”
Besides yourself, which actor in this production is going to blow people away?
It’s hard to say since all of the actors are amazing. In my opinion, no one actor carries this play since every actor has moments that will make you laugh, cry and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the show.
If you could play any other character in this play, who would it be?
Liberty Valance! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play the villain!
What makes a good scene partner?
In my experience, some of the best scene partners are those who take as much pleasure in the process as I do. They’re the people who come to every rehearsal eager to work. They always come in with a great attitude. They don’t get set into one way of doing things and they always allow room for growth. They are the kind of people who, after seeing their work, inspires you to push yourself; to not accept anything less in your own work. That’s what makes a great scene partner in my eyes.