Neal Hemphill

Neal Hemphill is an actor, filmmaker, and photographer.

As an actor, Neal has worked in 31 states and 3 foreign countries, performing everything from off-off-Broadway solo shows to feature films to major touring productions.  He's always had a camera with him, and has taken photos everywhere he's gone.  This lifelong interest in performing and looking through a lens has led to third passion - filmmaking.  

Neal's passion for storytelling is now being expressed through screenwriting, directing, producing, and acting, as well as photography.  The common threads are heart, humanism, and love of life. 




During the last week at Centerstage in Baltimore, I got a call to go in to NYC for an audition that I had requested my agent try to book for me.  She booked the audition, so I went in for it.

It was for a production of "The Playboy of the Western World" at Intiman Theatre in Seattle, to be directed by their highly regarded new Artistic Director, Kate Whoriskey.  I received the appointment along with the play and sides in a pdf, all on the day before the audition.

This was during our last couple of days in Baltimore, and I had a few things I was dying to do there.  But I made the decision to go for it!  Strike while I'm on a roll, doing a terrific show.

So, I drove up on Thursday night after our performance, and I arrived home about 2:30 a.m. My wife Trish was fast asleep, and I slept upstairs in our guest room.  We didn't even see each other.

I had to print out some updated resumes, and it was after 3am that I really got a chance to work w/ the sides.  The audition was at noon the next day, and had curtain at 8 pm back in Baltimore that night.

I immediately connected to the scene, and fell into the Irish dialect and rhythms quite naturally.

Friday morning, I drove to Manhattan from our home in Queens, parked, and got there early.  I thought I was a bit old for the character, and felt I was more suited for the bar owner than the patron that I was auditioning for.  This suspicion was reinforced when I saw an actor w/ whom I'd worked in an Irish play, "The Weir," in Philadelphia a while back. He's a good bit younger than I am, and he was up for the same role.

I went in, and was hoping to have a good chat w/ the director about "Snow Falling on Cedars," and the pending changes at Centerstage, where she had directed in the past.  But it was all brisk business, and we proceeded quickly to the reading.  We did it once.  The reader was excellent...and I felt I did an excellent job myself!

Ms. Whoriskey was not interested in what I was offering, and the audition came to a quick conclusion.

I went for it, driving overnight to NYC, giving up my chance to do some great things in Baltimore, and making myself exhausted heading into the final weekend of the play, for about 2 minutes in the audition room!  That's just how it goes sometimes!

I got in the car, feeling very down, but when I hit the highway I put a CD of one of my favorite bands, Social Distortion, in the player.  Mike Ness, Mr. Hard Knocks himself, was singing "Reach for the Sky, 'cause tomorrow may never come."  Yes, Mike, that's what I had just done, and you made me feel righteous about it.  I settled into my trip back to Baltimore, and had a great closing weekend.

Now for the kicker.

The venerable and artistically successful Intiman Theatre has had to shut down.  Just this week, they realized they cannot continue to meet their payroll, and they shut down before the new actors arrive for their next show.  Their season is cancelled, and there will not be a production this summer of "Playboy of the Western World."  They hope to re-organize, raise funds, and re-open.  I certainly hope they do, as they've done some very important work, such as the production of "The Kentucky Cycle" that led to its getting the Pulitzer Prize.

One never knows in this business just what is around the corner.