A Symphony For Portland: Demetrius Kee

Interview by Jen Bush

Demetrius Kee is a cast member of an exciting new work premiering in mid-August called A Symphony for Portland.  As an actor and a minister, he’s entering this production with a unique perspective.  He is the kind of artist who puts his ego aside and wishes to connect with the audience on a profound level.  “I am an artist whose purpose is through any production that I am cast in, through any character that I have the honor to give life to and let their truth come forth on the stage, that the audience after experiencing the journey of the piece would be inspired, enlightening, and enriched with the message that the play or musical has laid the foundation to present.”

Mr. Kee’s creative process is comprehensive, and it involves a deep dive into the script in order to make the character as fully realized as possible.  “I Read the script through the eyes of Demetrius (to get the full picture of the plot of the play).  I Read the script through the eyes of my character (understanding my character, what is he fighting for, and why does he do the things that he does).  I Break the play down from scene to scene, monologue to monologue and find the overall goal on which my character needs to fight for, the motivations and intentions in each line of the scene and monologue (why and how my character is saying each line – always an active verb), and the tactics that will help push my character towards his goal.  I Let my character speak for himself on the stage, I am not the character’s publicist, so I allow my character to have full total control on the stage to breathe and live.”

Mr. Kee was drawn to this play after hearing about the subject matter.  He felt the issues in the production needed to be brought to light.  “Mr. David M. Brown texted me one Saturday to see if I was interested in being a part of this piece, and after a phone conversation about the show I knew that I had to be a part of this piece to help bring to light these serious topics like homelessness, the LGBTQIA+ community, and even prostitution and what lead them to be in that position.”

Given that this show has serious subject matter, many artists like Mr. Kee feel an added responsibility in presenting it sensitively.  “As a thespian it should be our duty to use the gifts that God gave to take such topics and creatively bring them in the front line so that people will not only be aware but start conversations and figure out active ways for change.”

 Though Covid is not over, Mr. Kee feels positive about the performing arts moving forward with the proper safeguards.  “Since June of 2021, I’ve been through different stage productions. Following the CDC guidelines of course, fully vaccinated, and wearing my mask. I feel that as long as we protect ourselves, be aware of our current condition with COVID, and take the necessary precautions seriously that the production has put forth, theatre will continue to live its purpose. Especially a production like this.”

Mr. Kee has some very good ideas about what theatre should look like post-Covid which are applicable whether Covid is part of the equation or not.  “Throughout the pandemic of COVID-19, we have faced other pandemics that this world is still suffering from, like racism, bigotry and economic oppression to name a few. Like it or not, these pandemics we still face in the industry (Theatre) as well. In order to fully able to fulfill the purpose of what Theatre should look like, the representation must be present. That means all people of all races, genders, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs, must be present at the table, and treated with the same respect and value that they put forth in their work on the stage. That means rules must be in place, or changed, that gives actors more opportunities for work, more pay with better benefits, greater opportunities to explore different areas of authority, and the freedom to create and make sure their work is shown in professional arenas.”

Whether on a Broadway stage or in front of a congregation, Mr. Kee has faith in divine intervention to light his path to success.  “Whatever platform God has placed my feet on is the next assignment that is meant for me to fulfill. My goal is to be a true professional actor on Broadway/National Tours, but I am also a minister as well, so I go wherever the Lord leads me.”

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