An Interview with James Webb III (Holloway) for Two Trains Running
A well-known actor in the Jacksonville community, James Webb III lends his talent to our stage for Two Trains Running. He plays Holloway, a character who contributes a high level of experience and sincerity to the plot. He’s honest, and not afraid to speak what he believes.
We learned more about Webb’s perspective on August Wilson’s work and how he is able to connect to the character, in an interview.
Q: Describe your character. What are Holloway's relationships with the others like, and how does he stand out from the rest?
A: Holloway’s relationships are simple and apparent. You can tell that he and Memphis's friendship runs deeper than anyone else’s. Memphis talks to Holloway about everything and Holloway has been there to see it all. So with the two of them, I believe there’s an understanding and comfort. Now Holloway doesn’t mind calling anyone on the carpet if he feels it’s necessary but I think that’s his way of helping. His life experiences cause him to speak directly to the situations that happen around him and I think that’s what makes him stand out from the rest. He’s a pillar in the community, especially in the restaurant.
Q: How do you connect to your character and how do you plan to make those connections clear in your acting?
A: In my life I find myself being a voice of reasoning for others...not that I’m some type of guru or “know-it-all”, but some value my opinion/insight and I share it with all humbleness and desire to see those individuals succeed. I believe Holloway and I are similar in that regard and that allows me to connect with that him. Hopefully, that sincerity is read by the audiences.
Q: Who does Aunt Ester represent? Why is Holloway the one who introduces her to the story? Why is she so important to Holloway?
A: I wouldn’t say “Who” but rather “What” Aunt Esther represents. She represents answers to what’s going on in the mourning world, specifically Pittsburgh. She’s hope that there’s something bigger than what is happening. She is not a genie, although some may consider her to be, but she isn’t. However, she’s a gateway to enlightenment.
Holloway happens to be the one who introduces her because he’s the one who believes. And he believes not because it was some inherited religion/belief, but he believes because of his own encounter, therefore, when he talks he talks with conviction. She’s important to him because he was headed down a path that wasn’t good for him and his encounter/belief caused a transformation in his thoughts, words, and deeds.
Q: How has your experience been working with a new young actor like Marlee? Talk about your relationships with the other actors in the cast.
A: Marlee is a ball of energy that this cast didn’t know it needed. She brings a beautiful essence to the dialogue that I’m not sure she’s aware of. It’s very easy and smooth. She has this strong presence without ever saying a word. I'm excited to work with her and can’t wait to see how she develops Risa.
And working with the guys, it’s interesting and fun. I say interesting because when you put men in a room, there’s always a flex of who’s alpha, however, with this cast...I don’t get that. At this point, We’re still learning each other’s strengths and building the chemistry.
Q: What are some of the most valuable things you've learned through the rehearsal process so far?
A: Working as a unit. Being in an ensemble cast, everyone has to pull their weight, but when you see another struggling, you don’t sit back and let them fail...you jump in (if permitted by the director and with humility) and help.
Q: How has it been to work with Brian? Have you worked with him before? What do you like about his directing style?
A: This is my first time working with Brian and I respect him. I respect his choices. I respect his vision. I respect his approach to an all black cast telling a black story. Having never experienced the African-American experience, he didn’t come in thinking he knew it because he read on it or has black friends, but he let us talk and he LISTENED! And for that, he has my respect.
Q: What do you think August Wilson's greatest message is through this play? How does he display this?
A: I think the greatest message is being aware. After watching this show, everyone has the responsibility of awareness. Caucasians have the responsibility to understand the black experience of that time and see how it mirrors today and what you can do with your privilege to make the necessary changes. African-Americans have the responsibility to be in support of each other. Don’t tear the next black man/woman down to get ahead. See how things have changed for us and use resources to help the next person rise.
Q: Why should people come to see Two Trains Running?
A: I heard someone say, “Theatre is the mirror to society”...if you want to know what’s going on in your community or this world, come see Two Trains Running. It’s education and entertainment all at once.
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