Then and Now Interviews – Benvolio

Justen Douglas

Role in CBP’s 2005 Romeo and JulietBenvolio

I am currently a Data Storage Engineer living in Monticello, MN. I graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2012, where I met my wife of 4 years. I am a fitness junkie and a martial artist, though I still exercise my creative side though miniature war games and painting.

Being in theatre has taught me a lot about myself and about people in general. Digging deep into yourself to find the part of you that shows itself in your character, the good and the bad, generates a level of understanding and humility with regard for the human condition. We as people have a lot more in common than that which might be apparent on the surface.

For an artistic discipline dedicated to teaching you how to “be” other people, theatre also taught me how to genuinely be myself. Learning to walk onstage, quell the fear inside and perform for people was a feat in itself, but learning how to adapt to problems and work with my counterparts onstage is a skill that I use all the time in my work and personal life. This program took me from barely being able to walk onstage with a dozen of my friends in R+J to delivering a 5-minute monologue alone with the audience completely silent and almost holding their breath in Anne Frank. This was an incredible transformation for me personally. Additionally, for home-schooled children especially where competitive sports may be less of an option, learning to accept whichever role you were assigned with grace and humility is an invaluable skill. The friends I made in acting will always hold a very special place in my heart, and that is priceless.

List all the CBP shows you were involved in. List any other theater experiences you have had since participating.

  • The Miracle Worker (2005)
  • Romeo and Juliet (2005)
  • Peter Pan (2006)
  • Pride and Prejudice (2006)
  • Robin Hood (2007)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (2007)
  • Oliver Twist (2008)

What is one of your favorite memories of being in Romeo and Juliet?

Being my very first show, I was a bit overwhelmed at first by this show and the experience in general. The greatest memory I have was not a specific moment, though there are plenty of those, but rather the powerful friendships we developed as pseudo-family during the rehearsal and tech week. It didn’t matter who you were, the whole cast came together in support of one another and that was incredible to be a part of.

 

Describe the character you played in the show and list some characteristics of your character that you admired.

Benvolio was a challenging first character for me to really unpack, because there weren’t a lot of lines dedicated to either him speaking or being talked about. However, the trait that stood out the most to me was his loyalty to Romeo. Sidekick is probably the easiest way to describe his role, but there was much more to it than that. He was the kind of friend we all wish we could have, and ought to be.

 

What were the challenges you faced when performing in Romeo and Juliet?

At the time, I was an incredibly timid person and the idea of being onstage at all terrified me. I also struggled with memorizing even the handful of lines I had. It was all new and different, taking me far beyond my comfort zone.

 

 

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