Pin It

Deaf Actor Russell Harvard Discusses Starring in the Off-Broadway Show, ‘Tribes’

In the off-Broadway show Tribes, a young deaf man, Billy, struggles with his relationship with his hearing parents who have difficulty accepting Billy’s disability.

The actor playing Billy comes with the kind of experience that most actors couldn’t replicate: Russell Harvard really is deaf.  Best known for his performance as the adult HW in There Will Be Blood, Harvard talks about his preparation for the difficult role with The Wall Street Journal.

Since the play takes place in England, Billy had to learn to speak with a British accent.  Of course, this was challenging for Harvard, yet he had no issue confronting the challenge, pointing out, “My friends told me that I seem to have a Texas accent, so I really have to try and practice this British accent. They have a dialect coach that works with the cast and works with me. Speaking is not my first language, right?”

It was also difficult for Billy to “speak” in American Sign Language while speaking with a British accent.  He explains, “It’s like if you were trying to speak English and Spanish at the very same time. There are not so many times that I actually have to speak and sign at the very same time in this show, and that’s good. There are a few places where I have to do it. To me, that’s a big challenge.”

Harvard gives a lot of credit to director David Cromer for helping him with the difficult role.  He says, “He’s very straight. We’re very honest with each other. We change whatever needs to be changed. I absorb it. My first job, I had a hard time doing that. Back at my very first theater experience, it was hard to adapt and change. That’s a long time ago and I’ve learned now. I always say to myself, ‘Be an amoeba—don’t be concrete.’ As an actor, you want to be flexible. You want to accept the director’s feedback. It’s not criticism.”

Tribes opens March 4 at the Barrow Street Theatre.

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-ron-perlman-on-his-fathers.jpg
Watch: Ron Perlman on His Father’s Influence on His Early Career
Ron Perlman is a prolific actor, and he has also lent his distinctive voice to a number of projects in film and television — including the new animated film The Book of Life. One of the reasons that Perlman works so hard is not only because he loves being an actor, but because of what […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cate-blanchett-asks-graduating-s.jpg
Cate Blanchett Asks Graduating Students a Heavy Question: “What the hell can you do with an arts degree?”
“What the hell can you do with an arts degree?” Many actors ask themselves that when they find themselves struggling to make it in Hollywood while saddled with student loans. It was Cate Blanchett who posed that question recently to graduating students at Macquarie University in Sydney where she received an honorary doctorate degree. The […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/matthew-mcconaughey-rallies-his.jpg
Matthew McConaughey Rallies his Alma Mater Football Team to Victory with the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Chant
Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey delivered a different kind of speech two weeks ago when he spoke with the Texas Longhorns football team after their close 20-17 loss to UCLA. The moment was a bit odd, but hilarious at the same time. Coach Charlie Strong was the one who invited the Dallas Buyers Club star to inspire the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-anna-gunn-reveals-her-awkw.jpg
Watch: Anna Gunn Reveals Her Awkward ‘Breaking Bad’ Audition Details
Though Breaking Bad was obviously a career highpoint for every actor involved, they all must move on to their next projects (except for the few who are involved in the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul). This includes Anna Gunn, who portrayed Walter White’s wife Skyler on the award-winning series series. Gunn’s new series, the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-conversations-with-maggie.jpg
Watch: Conversations with Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott of New CBS Series ‘Stalker’
Both Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott are TV veterans, with Q recently starring in Nikita and McDermott recently starring in both American Horror Story and Hostages. This season both star as the leads of Stalker, a drama series on CBS about LAPD detectives who specialize in crimes that have to do with stalking. In a […]