Brian Stanton
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Brian Stanton

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Apr
12
Brian Stanton @ American Adoption Congress National Convention

Orlando, Florida, USA

Orlando, Florida, USA

Nov
10
Brian Stanton @ The United Solo Theatre Festival - Theatre ROW

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Oct
15
Brian Stanton @ Concerned United Birthparents Retreat

Carlsbad, California, USA

Carlsbad, California, USA

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Brian Stanton: Actor and Playwright

(Hollywood, CA) June, 2010 – Performing a one-person play is probably the most daunting task any actor has to face. Just ask seasoned veterans like Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, Nicol Williamson, and Eric Bogosian to list a few. In order for the show to work, it must possess two ingredients, very much like a chemical mixture: excellent writing and a talented actor who has such a dynamic presence that the audience’s attention will be maintained, no matter what. If the show doesn’t have just the right amount of one or both of these essential ingredients, it’s either going to blow up in your face or just fizzle like tepid champagne. And this high level of pressure is especially intensified if the performer is also the playwright because he or she not only has to concentrate on both skills---acting and writing---to carry the audience through the journey, but the performer is also at risk facing a complete sense of vulnerability, especially if the piece that is being performed is about a traumatic part of that person’s past. But one artist has faced those daunting challenges by writing and performing a profound piece of drama that deals with a facet of his life that everyone can relate to: a person’s journey into self-discovery. L.A. performer Brian Stanton demonstrates his multifaceted skills as an actor and playwright in his one-man show BLANK, which details his journey about how an adopted young man decides to meet his birth mother.

The very first moment we see Stanton, he tentatively walks a light path leading to the front of the stage. He fidgets, looks around, pulls out a crumpled piece of paper, looks up and reaches out as though he was going to ring a doorbell. But then suddenly, he gets transported to an acting class, which serves as a catalyst, a segue into the mind and soul of Stanton. The previously mentioned doorbell belongs to his birth mother, who at the age of sixteen gave him up for adoption, and the show is a spiritual and emotional roller coaster ride for him as he deals with the facts regarding his mother’s painful yet understandable reasons for giving him up and his reluctance for arranging a reunion with her. Throughout this exploration, Stanton performs many characters that help him try to face his fears and embrace the fact that he is not a blank slate, a person who has no identity, a man who is a byproduct of a violent act, but a talented, intelligent and sensitive young actor who conjures his courage to discover a level of peace he has never faced before.

With this kind of subject matter, you need some comic relief to keep the audience’s attention. And Stanton accomplishes this beautifully as he switches into 10 different characters throughout the show. Some are quite poignant; others are hilarious---the Top Three Favorites Stanton portrays include his diminutive Italian grandmother, a flamboyant drama teacher whose foundation for teaching the Acting Method is learning to “discover your meow” (a technique he learned while in a production of Cats), and a puritanical Catholic priest who has the frightening ability to perform the Vulcan Nerve Pinch on any student who misbehaves during confession. Stanton’s craft as an actor to transform into any of these personalities is truly phenomenal. However, the most difficult character he has to play on stage is that of Brian Stanton. When he is just himself, sharing with the audience about his thoughts and feelings on the road he is on, Stanton captures the soul of a man who is determined to fill in the pieces to the puzzle that symbolizes his individuality. He’s not a victim, and he’s not in desperation. He is a man in conflict, just like every human being on this planet who, at some moment at their own life, questions the personal journey they are on. And when the answers do come, it’s that person’s character and a sense of integrity and peace that finally settle and calm the soul. And Stanton’s own discovery and instinctive love for his birth mother, as well as maintaining his loyalty to his own adopted family, is truly heartwarming right to the very last second of the show. Blank is a perfect showcase for Stanton as an actor, playwright, and role model for anyone who questions the validity of their sense of worth. After performing his last show in Hollywood, Stanton then takes his show to Dallas, Texas on June 25 and 26 at the Dallas Hub Theatre for the Dallas/Ft. Worth Fringe Festival. He will also perform at the Concerned United
Birthparents retreat in Carlsbad, California on October 15, 2010. As time goes on, Stanton will hopefully return to Los Angeles and continue to perform this beautiful work of art, where the mosaic within the frame is anything but…blank.
- L.A. Splash Magazine Worldwide June 16, 2010 - By Peter A. Balaskas


Paul Birchall
NEW REVIEW GO BLANK In his deceptively simple, powerful solo show, playwright
Brian Stanton describes the process of reuniting with the birth mother who gave him up for adoption when he was an infant. Although material on this sort could easily founder on reefs of melodramatic cliché, the piece is instead deeply moving, and Stanton launches us on an existentialist journey as his inner debate over meeting his mother shifts into Hamlet-like musing on the nature of self-definition and the heartfelt needs we may not even be aware of. The play charts the paroxysm of the self-analysis that occurs after Stanton, an appealing young performer who looks as though he is central casting for the happy-go-lucky next-door neighbor on a TV sitcom, learns his birth mother's name. When he subsequently discovers the horrific incidents that led to his being put up for adoption in the first place, the knowledge takes on the force of Greek tragedy, as Stanton must come to grips with the fact that he is, in his own words, "part victim, part monster." In director McKerrin Kelly's brisk, passionate production, Stanton's writing is simultaneously dramatic and erudite, eloquently juxtaposing the philosophy of Plato and Buddha along with his own not-to-be-disparaged poetic turn of a phrase -- and he demonstrates a flair for creating unexpected images out of the most minimalist concepts, such as a sequence in which he imagines a conversation between himself and the ghost image of his rapist biological father, who is depicted as a coldly smiling prophet of evil. Stanton's skill in balancing a profoundly personal tale with classical underpinnings ultimately hints at the evocative idea that all our lives are full of events and incidents that touch on the mythic and the timeless. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; through May 23. (323) 960-5770. A Lone Star Ensemble
Production. (Paul Birchall)
- LA Weekly May 18, 2010


If it takes guts merely for an actor to stand up in front of an audience and play a role, imagine how much more courage is required when there’s no one else on stage to be his safety net—and the role that he’s playing is himself. Brian Stanton accepts this challenge in Blank, the actor’s funny, moving, thought-provoking autobiographical look at his identity as an adult adopted child with two birth certificates, one as Brian Timothy Stanton and the other as Blank. “Blank! I’m Blank!” exclaims Brian upon seeing that other birth certificate for the first time. “I mean I know I’m Brian, but I started out as Blank. There has to be something about Blank that is part of who I am, right? So, who the hell is Blank? Blank! I feel like there are two of me all of a sudden. Blank! Jesus! Like I don’t already have issues, I’m an actor!” It is this need to discover just who “Blank” is that sent the then 20something Brian in pursuit of the 16-year-old who gave birth to him. The same need now sends Brian-at-35 on this very public search for just who actor/husband/father/son Brian Stanton is. In the process, the oh-so talented star of No Sex Please, We’re British, Is He Dead?, Bright Ideas, and Tom, Dick, and Harry (check out StageSceneLA’s rave reviews) portrays not just himself, but a bevy of real-life characters who have shaped the man Brian Stanton is today. There’s Breeze, Brian’s flamboyant drama teacher who pronounces the “oe” in Oedipus like the “e” in Edith, and dubs himself the “rock n’ roll professor”; Mrs. Nash, Brian’s sweet old 2nd grade teacher, who insists that young Brian can’t possibly be adopted because he isn’t “Oriental” like his adopted classmate Chrissy; Ma, Brian’s chain-smoking mother who is so encouraging of her son’s identity search that she finds Brian’s birth mother in the phone book and makes the first call; best friend Adam, a fellow adoptee who has no interest in searching for his own birth parents because “We’re all actually 99.9% identical on the genome level, so aren’t we all kind of one big family anyway?”; Doc, Brian’s “long-winded, slightly senile” former undergrad professor, who has his own particular pearls of wisdom to impart; Fr. Stark, Brian’s high school priest who’s not above a little minor physical torture when the young man dares question the Bible as literal fact; Big Grandma, “90, still working, and planning her next annual adventure, riding bareback through the Grand Tetons”; Gramps, who post-stroke “lost all feeling on the right side of his body, and lost all vocabulary as well except for: Hey, OK, And, Come on, Hi, Bye, Yes, No, and 1, 2, 3. Oh! And all curse words;” and several more equally well drawn characters. Blank offers far more than just one actor’s life story and a chance for him to portray more (and more diverse) characters in 65 minutes than his career would normally allow him in a year or more, though this Stanton does indeed do to perfection, each character instantly recognizable by his or her unique voice and body language. Blank is a theatrical piece likely to resonate with anyone who has ever adopted, been adopted, known someone who has adopted or been adopted, or imagined what it might be like to be in that situation. That is to say that pretty much everyone will be able to relate in some way to Stanton’s search (and struggle) for a sense of identity. When one particularly shocking aspect of Stanton’s birth is revealed to young Brian’s (and the audience’s) horror, Blank does take a rather too artsy (for this reviewer) turn, the actor/writer engaging in a conversation with what turns out to be blind prophet Tiresias. The prolonged exchange (underscored with the scratching noise of an old vinyl LP) makes dramatic sense, as Stanton begins Blank with himself as a young acting student blanking on an Oedipus monolog, but lost me there for a while. Other than that segment, Blank held this reviewer enthralled, amused, and emotionally touched from start to finish. Credit for Blank’s success must be shared between its actor/writer and its director, McKerrin Kelly (a gifted actress herself). Kelly has clearly had a hand in shaping and fine-tuning Stanton’s impressive work here and in keeping the production visually varied, no small task on a virtually blank black stage, save for a couple boxes and some words and phrases scrawled on one of its walls—an actor’s guide to creating his character’s back story. Rob Fritz’s lighting design helps immensely as well, as do Erin Scott’s sound design and Christine Suarez’s movement design. Dan Mailley is scenic designer and Kelly Passinault is stage manager. Next up for Blank are two more performances of its Southwest Premiere at Dallas-Fort Worth’s DFW Fringe Festival, though hopefully Stanton can package the production and take it wherever its journey leads. Having loved Brian Stanton’s comedic work over the past several years, I feel now that I know not only the actor but the man. This is a solo show well worth seeing.
- StageSceneLA.com - June 13, 2010 - June 13, 2010


Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a dance lecturer
at the University of Texas Arlington. She also serves as
assistant director of UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble.

“Who the hell is Blank?”
That is the question that playwright and actor Brian Stanton attempts to answer in BLANK. This one-man show at Dallas Hub Theater grants a voyeuristic view into Stanton’s mission to discover his true identity. From a young age, Stanton always knew that he was adopted, but never felt out of place until his adoptive mother showed him his birth certificate, complete with his birth mother’s name and a blank space where his name should be. Troubled by this fact, he is thrown into an identity crisis as he tries to reconcile his past with his present and future.

Although material of this sort can border on the melodramatic and become “bland and boring,” as the playwright initially states, BLANK is nothing of the sort. It is a passionate portrayal of one man’s quest to redefine himself. Is he “part victim” or “part monster?” Or is he the boy-next-door whose dashing good looks will get him far in life?

The rhetorical quality of the dialogue pulls the audience into Stanton’s existentialist journey and leave them wondering is he Oedipus or Buddha? Playing more than 10 different characters and asking questions only to get more questions, Stanton learns that as the facts of his birth are revealed, the less he knows about himself. But with the help of Oedipus Rex, a pushy theatre teacher, and his own soothsayer, Stanton realizes that the answers to his identity are only a doorbell away. Among the many characters that he immaculately portrays, Father Stark, a priest at school who unknowingly sets Stanton on a religious and spiritual journey, Big Grandma, whose one line, “remember your soul,” neatly sums up the moral of the play, and the other “Brian,” Stanton’s consciousness that manifest into the Buddha version of himself, standout.

BLANK is well performed, well written, and neatly structured. He seamlessly transitions between characters, time, and location with the help of simple lighting choices, musical and dance interludes, and recording voice-overs. Stanton’s clever use of language and nod to classical Greek and Eastern theater was unexpected and refreshing. He has a firm grasp on writing comedy and knows how to appropriately use it to make us laugh and cry. He welcomes us on his emotional rollercoaster and we are more than happy to ride it with him till the end.
- ART & SEEK - Danielle Georgiou


Discography

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Bio

2010 BEST SOLO ACTOR award for the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York!

Brian Stanton premiered his original solo piece BLANK at The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood in April of 2010. He also performed BLANK at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Fringe Festival and will perform for the Concerned United Birthparents in Carlsbad , CA in October. Brian co-founded The Lone Star Ensemble, producing and acting there in plays such as VENUS & ADONIS, CARDENIO, ALBERT HALL, THE ILLUSION, ICARUS'S MOTHER, AND TAR & FEATHERS. Brian’s other theatre credits include BRIGHT IDEAS, TOM, DICK & HARRY, CHARLEY'S AUNT, IS HE DEAD? THE FOREIGNER and NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH. Other notable stage credits include BAAL with the Yale Cabaret, DEAR CHARLOTTE at the New York Fringe Festival, and GREATER TUNA and THE BIBLE: THE COMPLETE WORD OF GOD (ABIDGED) at Mammoth Lakes Repertory. Brian received his BFA at Texas Christian University and MFA at the California Institute of the Arts.