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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Arts for Youth Spotlight: Trung Phan

Trung Phan
Trung Phan

From King College to Off Broadway

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | January 29, 2014

King University student Trung Phan first turned to theatre as a means of distraction. "I decided that theatre would be my focus in college very late in my high school career. I was much more focused on music, education and sports. Specifically, I immersed myself in football and band to keep myself busy and as a way to fit in. An idea developed the more I found myself onstage. I didn't have to change for this art form; this is something that naturally fits who I am. Photography came very late as well, only since my sophomore year of college."

When he first arrived at King, Phan wasn't sure what direction he would take with theatre. "Now, it is just who I am — that love of a temporary art that allows you to live right here; the feeling that this emotion will not be as clear on video as it is in person. When a friend tells you about a theatre experience, it isn't, "so this is what happened;' it is, "so you've got to come see this.' It is the live theatre that really attracts me.

"I was lucky to start off so solidly in theatre in college. Theatre is an escape for me, and theatre is a lifestyle to me as well. It is where I go when I am looking for a foundation in my life, and where I go to remove myself from any element of my life that is not vital and is only a distraction. I have chosen live theatre over other types of performing such as dance and film because of how eclectic live theatre can be."

Recently, Phan had the opportunity to perform in an Off-Broadway production written by Alaska Reece Vance, lecturer in theatre for King University. The play was titled, "Feeding the Subject."

"She needed an actor to fill in; I had two days to memorize lines and blocking and get into character. I asked her what was the meaning of the production after the performances when we were on our way home from New York City. She in turn asked what I thought the meaning was.

"My answer was, "I believe that this show is taking place in a future setting where emotions and feeling have been evaluated so far that we have lost their meaning. Does he eat, should be answered simply yes or no, but every new thing has to be evaluated and no answer is given.' This all plays very well into a show that is anti-realistic in nature and left me saying "what!' at the very end after my first and seventh read of the script."

His latest project is directing "Black Comedy" at King. He says his approach to directing is, "I started out as an actor and will always be an actor at heart no matter where I take my career and future. I see myself as a guide for the actors to develop their characters. They are free to interpret, but I need them to follow the correct platform to interpret off of.

"I am also very interactive when I direct. I will be everywhere to gain all of the perspectives from an audience seat to backstage. I can be overly detailed, but I believe that it produces better quality when you give as much as you can and then pull back to be in the perfect balance. As a director I have to remember that these actors are the terminals for a director's creation, but they are also artists in their own right."

Phan plans to continue at King one additional year to finish up a second major in photography. Afterwards, he plans to relocate to a large metropolitan area, but that probably won't be New York City.

"I have always battled with the idea of where I would live after graduation. New York City is the pièce de résistance for live theatre. When you announce that you want your future vocation to be theatre, that is always the first location that comes up by family and friends and even colleagues who know the larger world of theatre."

He made his most recent trip to New York with the idea of seeing the city "from a working actor's eyes. Is this the place for me, is this where I want to push my career, and is this a city that I will be happy in? And being honest with myself I knew that it was not. I love New York City. I love everything it has to offer, all the attractions in it; but it is a city that will devour an actor. I saw that around me — people falling to the temptations of a run, burn and restart lifestyle. I hope one day I will keep doing business in New York City, travel and participate in productions, but my heart needs to be on the stage and it needs to travel."

Phan is from Rome, Ga. His parents are Myanh Nguyen and Knanh Phan. He is a senior at King University.

"Black Comedy," directed by Phan, is performed Feb. 27 through March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre on King University's Bristol, Tenn., campus.

Topics: Theatre