As part of my ongoing coverage of Bluegrass Community & Technical College's presentation of A FEW GOOD MEN, I have asked some of the key players for their thoughts about Aaron Sorkin's famous script. As always, Kevin Greer brings his observations in a purposeful, thoughtful and unfeigned way. Within his words I discovered the reason why he evokes such confidence portraying a man devoted to serving in the military: it's personal.
Like all of Tim X. Davis' proteges, Greer brings his own stamp to any role he brings to the stage, no matter how complex the character may be. Most recently, and perhaps most memorable, I recall his part in MIDDLE AGED WHITE GUYS where he was the wild child who returned to the toxic scene of the crime to join his brothers in their toast to the woman who had been biblical with all three of them (played wickedly by Leah Dick, another gem in the BCTC theatrical crown). In character, Greer's hair was long, his look was camouflaged adventurer mixed with a touch of hippie warrior as he played the forceful bully brother. I remember he made the audience gasp in shock with his entrance in the second act, climbing out of the trunk of the abandoned car he'd been hiding in throughout the entire play. As he taunted his brothers Roy and Clem (played by Zack Hightower and Jared Sloan), he also sparred with Rosa Paulin's character, who ended up turning the tables on him as she stammered her way to courage and resolution (she took the money and ran, love her heart).
This time around, though, it's a whole different haircut. Greer is playing a Marine, and he does it with such conviction, there is no doubt in my mind while watching him that he is attacking this role with all the fidelity and spirit of Semper Fi. At rehearsal on Wednesday night for A FEW GOOD MEN, I began to feel the emotion of the players as the story progressed, but Greer got me all choked up and my tears were unleashed as in one particular scene, he hammers down his intent in the emotional roller coaster his character helps to accelerate. His powerful delivery in that scene drives home the sense of obligation and duty behind The Marine Code: "Unit. Corps. God. Country!"
Greer explains, "I play the role of Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson, one of two U.S. Marines on trial for the murder of a fellow Marine. I had seen the movie, and Dawson seemed like an intense, complex, guy and I'm drawn to roles like that. My brother Trevor was recently deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Air Force, so I had some candid insight into preparing for this role that enabled me to relate more closely with Dawson's intentions and perspective."
Like all the others involved in A FEW GOOD MEN, Greer came back to the stage to work with his mentor and to work alongside his former castmates. "Aside from that, I wanted the opportunity to work under the co-direction of Tim X. Davis and my friend Jared Sloan for the first time, with the added bonus of acting next to them as they both play major characters."
He believes that the battle between choosing to do what is right versus performing a sworn duty is what makes his character so compelling. "Dawson is about as passionate and focused a Marine as you'll find. He's what we would call a 'hard-core' Marine, who not only takes his job literally, to the letter of the law, but who is also responsible for the behavior of the guys in his unit who are all about his age, and who all seem to trust and look up to him."
"As the play goes on, Sorkin gradually reveals another side of Dawson through the eyes and testimonies of the other characters; a 'conscience' and a level of maturity that's surprising in someone so young. I want to do justice to this role by trying to convey Dawson's emotional complexity. I think the audience will relate to that," he emphasizes.
Also familiar within this troupe of A FEW GOOD MEN actors is the feeling that there is not much about the character to which he is averse. He states that he dislikes "very little... (ha) -- but I would have to say... Dawson's vulnerability. I mean, he has this enormous responsibility placed on his shoulders and he completely owns it with this tough, leatherneck exterior. ... But underneath, he is still just ... A kid. Ultimately I think he underestimates his own vulnerability."
Greer further defines why he can identify with the Corporal's sense of duty with such fervor. "Two days before my brother deployed, the 'peaceful' base he was headed to was attacked by a group of insurgents. Our mom was freaking out because she didn't hear from him for a few days, and the reports in the paper and on the TV news said it was 'an eight-hour battle that had U.S. Troops scurrying for cover.' One woman reported that 'they came into the shelters and called all the Marines to the front line.' Well of course my brother couldn't give me details, but his answer to that account was a dismissive, 'Pssht... That's the media for ya.' He basically let me know without question that the situation was 'handled very quickly,' and he offered this assurance: 'Never doubt the U.S. Marines. They know what their job is over here and they do it well.'"
He does believe there are a multiple messages in this play, "but the main one for me would be that most civilians have no CLUE how the military operates, and sometimes that is best. They have to be very disciplined, and sometimes the results of certain 'situations' can't be disclosed to the media because it would interfere with their operations. As Col. Jessup (Tim X. Davis' character) points out - it's their job [the Marines] to be 'on that wall,' keeping people safe while we enjoy our freedom and sometimes take it for granted. In organizations like the military, there are precise rules and codes that all members have to abide by, or 'people die.' Civilian society isn't like that. We don't have to be that disciplined because generally we're not called upon to defend ourselves from deadly attacks on a daily basis: We have our military to thank for that safety. This play depicts that."
How does this role vary from other parts he's portrayed? "I think it's different from other plays I've been in, in that most of my previous roles were fictional characters, and this one seems more current, more real to me. The character Dawson is an individual, but he is part of an organization that is deeply traditional, patriotic, global, meaningful to lots of people." His favorite scene? "Easy... it's where Kaffey (Zack Hightower) tries to get Dawson to plea bargain, but Dawson's integrity will not allow him to say anything but the truth, and this situation also makes Dawson think less of Kaffey."
[thanks to everyone in the cast for sharing their perspectives with me, and especially to Katie Cox who took the rehearsal shots of A FEW GOOD MEN; the others were taken by Tom Eisenhauer during the production of MIDDLE AGED WHITE GUYS...sorry if there's any confusion...but by now, I hope you understand ;-) kjt]
You may have seen Greer recently at the one-act plays BCTC presented (that were student directed) at the Library, or may remember him from DARK OF THE MOON with BCTC last summer, "and MIDDLE AGED WHITE GUYS in the fall, which got nominated for the Southeast Theatre Conference as the only Junior college in the top 40 (among all 4-year universities). When AFGM is over, I plan to audition for a few local projects with Eric Seale, because he always does interesting - sometimes off the wall - stuff, and that's challenging and lots of fun."
A FEW GOOD MEN opens this Thursday at the DAC - stay tuned for more profiles on the talented cast that X has assembled for this next great production from BCTC.
Co-Directed by Tim X. Davis and Jared K. Sloan
A Few Good Men, written by Aaron Sorkin, tells the story of military lawyers at a court-martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, United States Marines accused of murder.
Cpl. Dawson- Kevin Greer
Pfc. Downey- Jared Sloan
Lt. Sam Weinberg- Charles Bruin
Lt. Daniel Kaffee- Zack Hightower
Lt. Cmdr. Jo Galloway- Hayley Williams
Capt. Whitaker- Katie Jo Cox
Capt. Matthew Markinson- James Brown
Pfc William Santiago- Carlos Pelayo
Lt. Col Nathan Jessup- Tim X Davis
Lt. Jon Kendrick- Jeremy Gillett
Lt. Jack Ross- Ryan Hastings
Cpl. Jeffery Howard- Alex Saunders
Judge Randolph- Vincent Harris
Dr. Walter Stone- Bret Ripley
(playing multiple MP’s/ Marines/ Lawyers/etc…)
Stage Manager - Aly Miller
Assistant Stage Managers - Laura Burton, Leah Dick
Ticket prices are $12 for general admission
LexArts Box Office
Downtown Arts Center (DAC)
141 East Main Street
Lexington, KY 40507
June 24th - 26th at 7:30pm
Matinee performance on Sunday, June 27th at 2pm