Monday, January 3, 2011

Susan V. Booth pays tribute to late actor Don Griffin

Posted By on Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 9:16 AM

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Atlanta actor Don Griffin passed away on Tues., Dec. 28. Griffin had been one of Atlanta's most versatile and reliable character actors for decades. Alliance Theatre artistic director Susan V. Booth wrote the following tribute to Griffin for his 2008 nomination for the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship:

“A versatile actor, storyteller, and beacon of Atlanta’s theatrical community - Don Griffin is simply a treasure. He is an engaging actor with an ever-increasing ability to create contradictory, nuanced, and deeply felt characters. What’s more, Griffin possesses an exceptional quality, the common touch. People of all walks of life find their way into his characterizations through a subtle, yet effective ingenuousness. This trait was likely sharpened through his work as a storyteller, where he went to various schools and communities throughout the Southeast, and learned that diverse audiences receive work in different ways. When Griffin performs, it appears that he invented the work in that instant, as though the life onstage was being lived for the very first time, and that the text was coined spontaneously. His timing is laser-like in its specificity; his sense of comic invention is impeccable; and his ability to mine a text for language-based laughs of truthful recognition cannot be matched. This is what Don Griffin so often delivers to the Alliance stage and to the audiences of Atlanta. He is a secret weapon, naturally playing characters that seem “unplayable.” This was most recently proven in August Wilson Full Circle, a rotating repertory of Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. Griffin’s indelible artistry brought two of August Wilson’s most complex and difficult characters to vivid, often hilarious, and unforgettable life. Don Griffin is a natural, poetic, and consummate actor at the apex of his craft, a historian of Atlanta theatre, and a precious gem of this community.”

(Hat tip to set designer Rochelle Barker for directing me to this.)

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