Staring On The A Train

I spend my southbound ride on the A train staring at a man at work. He's an actor. One I've seen on stage a few times since I moved here. One whom I admire. We're kind of the same type, though he is, I think, a little older. The roles I've seen him play are roles I would like to play. His palate is a subtle brain and heart balance I always find compelling and hope I share.


I'm staring not because of what I've seen him do in the past, but because of what he's doing right now. Right before my eyes. On the A train. He's working. He's creating. He has a script in one hand, a pencil in the other, and he is mouthing words and making notes and his face is changing then changing then changing with movement and stillness and thought. 

I stare because I want to know. I want to know: is he running lines or trying out reads or just letting thoughts bubble up? Is he retracing the path of yesterday's work to remind himself where to pick up today? Is he looking ahead? How does he do what he does? What could I learn?

I love the A train from 181st to 42nd Street. There are often one or more of us reviewing sides or sheet music. For an audition, probably. Usually. But my favorite is when there's an entire script or score in someone's lap and fingers and lips are quietly moving, only hinting at what's firing away inside. They are not chasing work, they are at work. 

I assume Henry Stram—for that is the man across the way—is working on Doug Wright's new play, PosterityI just received a mailer from The Atlantic Theater Company saying that Mr. Stram will be appearing in that piece starting later this month. I'd go, if I were you. He's always worth watching. On stage and on the A train.