Brooklyn is less than an hour’s drive from Roselle Park – not that far to go.
For Zachary Infante, the journey from his hometown of Roselle Park to the Brooklyn stage – where he is currently in the production of Christopher Marlowe’s milestone play “Tamburlaine” until December 21st – carries a distance that has taken him farther than he ever could have imagined; and the path ahead is an open road.
Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of William Shakespeare and his play “Tamburlaine”, a loose adaptation in two parts of the 14th century conqueror Tamburlaine who rose from shepherd to warlord in what is now known as the Middle East, is considered a significant achievement in its influence on Elizabethan theatre.
Theatre For A New Audience (TFANA) in Brooklyn, New York has received accolades for its productions of Shakespeare and other contemporaries and has received nominations and awards, including the Drama Desk, OBIE, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, and Tony. This season, TFANA, through the vision of Royal Shakespeare Company director and four-time Olivier Award winner Michael Boyd, adapted “Tamburlaine”, which was last produced on Broadway in 1956. Now Zachary, as part of a select cast of 19, is bringing to life a ‘beautifully tragic story’ that resonates for him with current world issues of those with power using violence to feed their own conquests.
Previews started at the beginning of November and its premiere was today, November 16th.
“I feel very privileged at this point. It’s an incredible group of people,” Zachary said of his fellow actors and creative team, “The play is long but it’s very fast moving and as for my characters, I’m finding their realities very much in my own world today. It’s interesting how the production is paralleling events in the news – I get a wrenching in my gut because of how real these stories are. When you imagine other parts of the world, that is the world of Tamburlaine for some. In personalizing it, in particular for my character Amyras, I think of kids today in terms of gun violence and how just the way a weapon can make a world of difference in a person’s life; in the ending of their lives or the ending of another’s life.”
As for the visuals that accompany the words and actions, Zachary himself was impressed with how the stage set the tone for the production, “The stage really looks like a slaughterhouse. And there’s so much blood! It’s not overindulgent because it’s important to the story but, yeah, there’s blood. It’s interesting how the blood is tracked throughout the show. It just makes the barbaric nature of this play more real.”
“[Michael Boyd] changed the way I perceive the classics and how I approach text. The words are much more sacred.”
Under the direction of Michael Boyd, Zachary stated that he has learned so much from acclaimed stage director, “He changed the way I perceive the classics and how I approach text. The words are much more sacred.”
Zachary recounted when – after going through auditions and callbacks for Tamburlaine – he got that phone call every actor lives for.
“I remember being in the subway at Fulton Street downtown and running up and down the stairs when they told me I got the parts. I was making a bit of a scene but it was great. I called my mom and my dad and my sister.”
And that moment is telling, in and of itself, in that it is just another part of the story that is Zachary Infante; a young talented man who started out wanting to pursue musical theatre after having numerous memorable lead roles in his high school musicals. Attending New York University, he continued to focus on musical theatre. He then became interested in experimental theatre and then, for the last year, working on dramas for the stage and television, including Amazon Studios’ “Alpha House”, the Hartford Stage production of “Somewhere”, and even TFANA’s staging of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, envisioned by Tony and Emmy Award winning director Julie Taymor.
“In terms of going from the stage to film and television, it has been a real shock and I’m so grateful and blessed to work between the mediums. I didn’t necessarily see it coming but what a privilege it is and what a great way to look at myself with new perspective of what I’m capable of,” commented Zachary, reflecting on how his love of music still plays a part in what he does, “The dramatic roles I play – like in Tamburlaine – I can do them without that comfort of the music being there. The song is still there but I don’t necessarily have to sing it. Drama has brought me back to how important the words are. The song is there without needing to sing.”
“I always remember where I come from and the communities that fostered my talent, especially my work with Eric Witkowski.”
In seeing how far he has come, Zachary still holds to his roots as the foundation he needs to grow as both a person and an actor, commenting, “I always remember where I come from and the communities that fostered my talent, especially my work with Eric Witkowski. Once I got into experimental theatre, it so reminded me of the way that Mr. Witkowski worked in a way that adapted to the actors he was working with. It was less about delivering a cookie cutter performance and more about creating an opportunity for his actors to be successful and to learn something from whatever character is presented to you. I learned so much from working at Roselle Park High School; not only about character and character development and how to make a play, but also how to be honest and how to find that genuine kindness that we need to find from within.”
And as for looking ahead to the direction his talent will lead him, Zachary says, “I’m still trying to figure that out. Acting’s about being in the present, in reacting to whatever comes next, and opportunities such as “Tamburlaine” are a constant reminder that the present is a gift.”
Zachary can be reached via his Facebook page (link), Twitter account (link), and his own website (link). He and his talent can currently be seen in “Tamburlaine” from now until December 21st at the Theatre For A New Audience (link) in Brooklyn.
It is less than an hour away to see how far Zachary Infante has come.