by Rita Charleston
Allens Lane Theatre is currently presenting “Tamer of Horses,” written by William Mastrosimone and directed by Nancy Kreider. It opened on Friday, May 6, and is running on weekends through May 22. It is the final production of the season.
“Tamer of Horses” tells the story of Hector, a troubled runaway from the big city who finds refuge on a horse farm in New Jersey. Hector, whose talent for rap rivals his penchant for criminal behavior, is befriended by Ty and his wife, both teachers at a local prep school, who take him in only on condition that he learn to read. Ultimately, Ty, who has been let go from his teaching job because of budget cuts, and Hector form a bond that affords them both a second chance at life.
Philadelphia native Marc Johnson takes the role of Ty, a man who hopes for second chances and now firmly believes in them. “With the death of his parents in a fire, both Ty and his brother were sent off to foster homes,” Johnson explained. “But looking back at it, Ty was the lucky one. He was sent to live in a loving home with two teachers who had a profound influence on him, whereas his brother was sent to a group home where loving didn’t exist, and where he eventually led a life of crime and died in prison.
“Without the means to help his brother, Ty hopes that Hector coming into his life is almost as if he’s been given a second chance, both as a teacher and as a way to change this boy’s life in a way he couldn’t change his brothers.”
Johnson, who graduated from Temple University with a B.A. degree in psychology, has been working as clinical director in the sleep disorders centers at various local hospitals over the years. “I originally planned on becoming a family therapist, but part of my training was to do some sort of apprenticeship, and the people at Jefferson University Hospital gave me the opportunity to work in the sleep lab for several months. I found I enjoyed it so much and have been continuing in that field ever since.”
Before graduating, Johnson also discovered he had a penchant for acting. Needing one more credit before graduation, Johnson decided to take a class in acting. He so enjoyed it that through the years he’s taken a variety of acting classes, performed in local and regional theater, appeared in film and television and more. And today, at age 46, he says he’s having the time of his life.
“As an actor I love breathing life into my characters,”Johnson said. “Once you truly understand your characters, you can almost bring them to life, and on the stage if you’re doing your job correctly, you get a good response from your audience as you’re developing a relationship with them. That’s just the way a teacher develops a relationship with his students.”
Aside from Ty getting a second chance through his relationship with Hector, he’s also getting a second chance with his wife. “There’s been tension between the two since Ty lost his teaching job, but having Hector in their life has offered them the opportunity to find common ground again and a way to reconnect.”
According to Johnson, acting has had a powerful and enjoyable impact on his life. “Acting is a world of pretend, but in a way it’s also the psychological evaluation of another person. It’s a way of walking in someone else’s shoes and then embodying that person on stage. And I really like the idea of exploring different personalities. There’s a fulfillment in the whole process that gives me a great deal of joy, and if I could do it all the time, I certainly would.”
For more information: 215-248-0546 or www.allenslane.org.