Actor Spotlight: Brandon Rubin
This month, actor Brandon Rubin will join SOSS to perform Stephanie McLemore Bray’s story, “Sherwood Green’s Last Picture Show.” Our casting director Jessica Laskey talked to Rubin about his love of language, teaching and coming home. Purchase tickets to the show here or at the door.
Jessica: Brandon, you’re a Natomas native but you’ve performed all over the country. What first attracted you to theater as an art form?
Brandon: I started acting in 6th grade — Comedy of Errors was my first play.
Jessica: Wow, Shakespeare as a middle-schooler?
Brandon: I know! As a teacher now, I would never give that to my students, but I love language. Doing that show, it struck me how dexterous I could be with language—the malleability of language, especially the English language, how many things mean the same thing and how you put together this poetry. But I didn’t develop my love for Shakespeare until much later. I performed in middle and high school, did my undergrad at Sac State and then got my MFA at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.
Jessica: What made you decide to pursue an advanced degree?
Brandon: Ideally, to start a theater program—that was my initial inspiration for grad school, to pursue that path. I love to teach acting, I love interacting with actors and interacting with text. I’m not really doing that right now, though I do teach drama at a high school, but (at Rutgers) is where I found my love and passion for performing. Before grad school, I was playing around and really loved it, but I found my joy, my passion, my fire for it in grad school.
Jessica: Did you end up performing on the East Coast?
Brandon: Yes, I did a lot of plays at Rutgers and in New York, lots of readings up and down New Jersey. I was doing a lot of work in small spaces, big spaces—I was doing everything I could to keep the thing going. I love performing and I love telling stories. I spent 10 years in New Jersey, but during the pandemic, I wanted to come back to Sacramento to be closer to family.
Jessica: Has it been a big adjustment coming back, especially as an Equity actor?
Brandon: It’s been OK mostly. Sacramento is a theater town—we have a rich theater life. It’s a different game out here, that’s what you’ve got to understand. We’re more into film and TV, there’s not a theater company on every block like in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, all up and down the eastern seaboard. In California, everyone’s trying to get on camera. It gets me determined. I’ve been fortunate to work here—I just did The Royale at Capital Stage. It’s been really good. It’s always a learning experience, so I try to keep myself connected to theater creators I know from LA to New York, to stay abreast. I’m always find new readings to keep practicing and stay ready.
Jessica: Then Stories on Stage is perfect for you, readings are what we do!
Brandon: I’ve always believed readings and plays are the same thing because you’re trying to tell a story. I even do audiobooks on Audible and it’s always about telling a story—keep the ball in the air, keep it interesting, go on the ride, let it take you places, always be open. That’s the same as being onstage: being open, awake, aware, sensitive and truthful.
Jessica: Do you have any specific Sacramento career goals?
Brandon: I’ve only been home one year, but love that I get to teach theater and get to work with youth. I want to have a positive effect on my community.