As Broadway begins to reopen its theatres, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with Adam Chanler-Berat, whose Broadway credits include Next to Normal, Peter and the Starcatcher, Saint Joan, and Amélie, A New Musical. The actor, seen Off-Broadway in Rent, Nantucket Sleigh Ride, The Fortress of Solitude, and Fly By Night, is currently filming the eagerly awaited HBO Max reboot of Gossip Girl in a cast that also includes fellow stage stars Laura Benanti, Jason Gotay, and Tavi Gevinson. The latter will join Chanler-Berat this fall when he returns to the New York stage in the Classic Stage Company revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Weidman's Assassins, directed by Tony winner John Doyle.
What is your typical day like now?
We are still in the process of shooting the second part of season one of Gossip Girl, so some days are spent on set. When I'm not there, the fixture of my day is a walk in the morning with my coffee. I live near the East River, so I check in on it...make sure it's still there.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Speaking of my morning walks, I'm generally listening to a podcast. I have a very full library but a few great, recent eps include the Nikole Hannah-Jones/Ta-Nehisi Coates episode of The Ezra Klein Show, Alok Vaid-Menon's episode of The Man Enough podcast, and Natalie Goldberg's episode on writing and the art of haiku on Tara Brach's podcast. The last book I read that I was in love with was Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. And, over the pandemic I've gotten really into that survivalist reality show Alone on the History Channel, 'cause um, I dunno?
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
There is so much to learn and unlearn in this time. As I confront my own inherent biases and privilege, I am trying to find ways to take action. Ibram X. Kendi in Ezra Klein's podcast talks about the importance of policy change as a means of progress. There's an amazing organization called Amplifying Activists Together (founded by NY theatre folks!) that holds weekly action calls to local representatives in service of progressive and radical movements. If you're interested, join the email list here.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
This is a really tough, tender, and scary time. Breathe. Meditate. Find a way to safely connect with people. Be of service. Go out in nature. Pick something small to accomplish every day.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Are you working on any theatre/TV/film projects during this time?
I am writing a few things right now with some amazing collaborators.
How do you feel about returning to live performance in the fall?
I saw Shakespeare in the Park last night, and it was my first theatre experience since the winter of 2020. What a joy explosion and the perfect amuse-bouche of what the fall has in store for us.
What would you say to audience members who may be feeling uneasy about returning to a theatre?
You love the theatre and want to see it/support theatre-makers? Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. Wear a mask.
What organization(s) would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Magic City Acceptance Center (LGBTQ organization in Birmingham, Alabama, taking on a lot of the heavy lifting of providing resources to southern LGBTQ people, especially trans youth in the wake of the anti-trans laws). House of GG (Miss Major's organization in Arkansas that provides housing and wellness/healing centers for trans women). Proud Haven (an organization that provides housing for homeless LGBTQ youth and adults in the Pittsburgh area). Trans Housing Coalition (an Atlanta-based organization that creates long-term housing for trans and gender non-conforming people in Atlanta that also has an amazing art collective).