Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Actor's Life Became His 'Poem'

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Actor's Life Became His 'Poem'

Article excerpt


Alan Brasington's mother was 16 when he was born in upstate New York; his father, a milkman, just a year older. It would be 11 years before the first of his three brothers arrived. So his early years were full of loneliness and isolation.

"I felt totally abandoned and unwanted," says Brasington, who has the sharp nose and shoulder length locks perfect for the classical acting he once did. "I was always aware I was different, a foreigner in my own home. My feeling of not belonging was so strong it made me aware of what was and wasn't said. I learned to interpret things on my own."

An irrepressible precocity emerged early. By the age of 2 Brasington had already concluded Santa did not exist. He made a stir by repeating a dirty joke he didn't understand just to hear the laughs. He bleated out "And pass the ammunition!" when the pastor at church intoned "Praise the Lord!" And, when bored by adult conversation, he piped up with his alcoholic grandfather's racial slurs, knowing they'd gain him some attention.

Entranced by the black and white movies loved by his vivacious and beautiful mother, more a peer than a parent, he spent hours in front of the television. But the idea of a life in theater seemed remote to a child growing up "with nothing expected of me."

Brasington worked his way through college, took a job teaching school to pay off loans, and worked summers as a waiter in a Borscht Belt resort near his Monticello birthplace. The wealthy and sophisticated guests revealed another world, one so intriguing he couldn't help but sit down to talk rather than serve them, causing one patron to complain, "You're a terrible waiter. What are you doing here?"

As it happened, his accuser was the president of Rotary International, who encouraged Brasington to apply for a scholarship to continue his studies. Not long thereafter, the failed waiter was on his way to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for three years of classical theater training that "changed my life," and cemented a love of all things English.

Returning to the United States, Brasington began his stage career, which included not only Shakespearean plays, but a Broadway run of "Jesus Christ Superstar," in which he appeared nude nightly while working as a kindergarten teacher by day. But he soon realized what he really enjoyed was the rehearsal, not the limelight.

"That's where you make the connections," he says. "What I care about is what's going on in people's minds."

Moreover his $89 a week salary couldn't balance $600 in annual Equity dues, so he began making regular visits to Amish country, snapping up furniture, antiquities and theatrical props. When his acting interest flagged -- "I came on stage in my kilt and with my sword and suddenly thought, 'I don't really want to do this anymore'" -- he opened an antiques shop in Manhattan. …

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