The Rural We: David Adkins
David Adkins is an Artist Associate at the Berkshire Theatre Group (BTG) in Pittsfield, Mass., where he’s performed in 25 productions and is currently the director of the intern acting program. He began his acting career as a teen at the McDonogh School in his native Maryland, but left theater behind during his three years at Dartmouth College. He credits his 1985 internship at BTG for renewing his love for performing. Adkins has worked on and off Broadway, in resident theaters across the country, and as a television guest star, where you may have seen him in Homeland, The Blacklist, The Good Wife, The Americans, Happy-ish and many others. He’s appearing now in Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo (Zoo story) at BTG’s Unicorn Stage in Stockbridge.
In 1985 I was an English major at Dartmouth when I came here for the first time, to what was then known as the Berkshire Theatre Festival, as an apprentice. I’d done theater in high school and was passionate about it, but I really felt like I wasn’t going to be an actor. But that summer, I had people telling me “You have some talent – have you thought about getting more training?” I hadn’t thought of it as a career, but by the end of the summer I’d gotten into Juilliard. I was full speed ahead after that and BTF was instrumental in my transition.
I continued to come back, the following year as intern actor, then a children’s theater actor, then in a non-equity company for two more years. The year I graduated, I made my professional debut in The Middle Ages at BTF and I’ve worked here on and off ever since. My partner, Corinna May, and I are NYC residents, but we have a place in Tyringham, Mass. and we’re here on weekends and when we’re working up here. She’s worked at BTG and at Barrington Stage, and has been a company member at Shakespeare & Company for 25 seasons, where she’ll star in The Wharton Comedies in about 2 weeks. We plan on transitioning here in the near future.
“Zoo Story” photo by Emma Rothenberg-Ware.
I’m also director of the intern acting program this summer. When I was at Juilliard, I’d spend the years studying and the summers at BTG practicing what I’d learned. This is my opportunity to give back to the theater that was fundamental in my development as an actor.
So many TV shows film in NYC now, it’s thriving there, so I don’t have to travel very far. As a younger man I was cast as either a leading man or the best friend. Now, as my hair is graying, I’m cast as businessmen, doctors and lawyers a lot more. I played an art dealer recently on The Blacklist, and a therapist on Homeland. The challenges of TV acting are different. There’s a lot more rehearsal when you have a long theater run, and generally you repeat the same movement every night. When shooting a TV show, every time can be like a rehearsal. You have to be able to repeat yourself, but it moves so much faster because every minute costs money. And because I’m coming in on a set where I don’t know anyone, there’s a lot more pressure.
I really feel the energy of the Berkshires in a way that I don’t experience elsewhere. There’s an artistic enthusiasm from all the different area organizations. It’s not unrelated to the artisanal arts in the community, the same is true of the local farmers and brewers. The artistic culture is palpable and vibrant. We all support each other in that communal creative energy and spirit. I’ve seen virtually every actor who comes to BTG end up picking up a real estate guide when they’re here. Everyone feels the magic.
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