When the man steps on stage, he disappears.
He’s no longer the son of a caterer, Warren, who died in a car accident when he was only 7. Or the son of a photographer, Alysyn, who raised him and his sister by herself ever since.
He’s no longer the kid who wanted to be a cop or a fireman like other boys did, or a professional wrestler like the WWE stars on TV, or a magician like Criss Angel on “Mindfreak,” or a radio broadcaster like his grandfather.
He’s no longer the “miserable” middle or high school student who was shy, anxious, depressed and struggling to fit in with everybody else until his sister recommended a theater class to him as a freshman. Who signed up for the class, expecting an easy semester full of games, only to be very, very wrong.
He’s no longer the teenager who was mesmerized by a classmate’s ability to hold “the audience in the palm of his hand” while acting, who wanted to somehow achieve that same feat on the stage, who saw acting as his next obsession.
He’s no longer the novice actor who got on the college stage immediately, acted in eight plays and a couple of short films, and figured that he shouldn’t be scared to pursue this as his career.
He’s no longer the Campbell graduate who, a year ago, saw that there was nothing really for him in North Carolina. Who then packed up a few bags, hopped on a plane and moved 2,500 miles away from his home in Garner, into a small studio apartment a block away from Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
He’s no longer the unemployed student at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre who’s scraping by with his savings, who eats eggs for nearly every meal because they’re cheap, who’s applied to work everywhere and hasn’t heard back from anyone, who’s not afraid of failing because he’s proud of himself for simply trying.
He’s no longer Perry Balentine.
Instead, he’s Alvin Barnes in “This Body the Earth.” He’s Joseph in “The Sound of Cracking Bones.” He’s Austin in “The Spectrum.”
So, why does the 23-year-old disappear?
Because, he says, his “favorite actors are the ones that are like chameleons,” who “can really disappear into their roles.” Like Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight,” or his current-day favorite actor in Jake Gyllenhaal, or any of the actors whose posters adorn the white walls of his apartment.
Because, he says, sometimes he finds comfort in pretending to be other people. And sometimes, he says, he just wants to escape himself for brief periods of time.
So, he steps on stage.
And he disappears.