University News

Theatre Alumnus Michael Boatman to Visit WIU

October 26, 2005

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MACOMB, IL - - Actor Michael Boatman mostly travels to and from New York and California, but lately he has been back in the Midwest, participating in Culver-Stockton College’s (C-SC) guest artist production, working onstage with student actors and conducting workshops and masterclasses.

Boatman and C-SC students will present “Noises Off” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, Oct. 27 and Oct. 29 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30 in Alexander Campbell Auditorium (Canton, MO). For tickets and information, call the C-SC Fine Arts Office, 573/288-6346.

Since C-SC is only 75 miles from his alma mater Western Illinois University, Boatman called theatre department Chair Gene Kozlowski to arrange lunch “with an old friend.”

Well known for his role on ABC’s “Spin City” as Carter Heywood, Boatman began his acting career in earnest at Western. In an earlier interview he said, “Theatre was a hobby for me in high school, and when I wrote Western about its programs Gene Kozlowski wrote back. Gene showed me around and really sold me on the department and school.”

He will return to Macomb Friday for a little nourishment for his heart with two former mentors - - lunch with Kozlowski and dinner with Egla Hassan, professor and head of Western’s MFA directing program. Boatman also will be available during the afternoon to talk to students and faculty.

As a student at Western in the early and mid-1980s, Boatman earned best supporting actor in the Irene Ryan National Competition at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Not only was Michael an enthusiastic actor and student, he was a person that I liked having around,” Kozlowski said.

“One thing we become convinced about while he was here was that the concept of ‘color blind’ casting was appropriate and productive,” Kozlowski added. “Several years before it was the politically correct thing to do, we were doing it at Western because Michael was the best actor for a specific role.

“Because of this policy Michael was able to play the role of Treplev in ‘The Seagull,’ the ambassador to England in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Travesties’ and a Russian dancer in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’” he added. “It was a healthy situation for all of us, students and faculty. As Treplev, it didn’t matter that Michael’s skin was black and the actress playing his mother in turn-of-the-century Russia was white. It was good training for all of us.”

Boatman has worked in television, film and theatre. His first role was as Motown in “Hamburger Hill.” He starred in the HBO series “Arli$$” as Stanley Babson, ABC’s “Celebrity Mole: Hawaii” and “China Beach” as Sam Beckett. Boatman’s film credits include “Kalamazoo,” “The Peacemaker” and “The Glass Shield;” and television movies include “”Fourth Story,” “In the Line of Duty: Street War,” and the PBS special “The Trial of Bernard Goetz.”

The Western alumnus has also participated in several off-Broadway productions including “The Glass Menagerie” in San Francisco and “Tiny Mommy” at the Playwright’s Horizons.

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