This is the first in a series of interviews with the cast of The Masqueraders production of Translation. Meet Chris Hudson.
Joel: Introduce yourself to our readers and tell them what other shows you have appeared in and some of the roles you have played.
Chris: My name is Chris Hudson. I am a junior at the Naval Academy and have been a Masquerader since I was a freshman. With the Masqueraders, I have participated in three fall, main stage productions (Titus Andronicus as Titus’ son, barbarian, and Senator; The Importance of Being Earnest as Dr. Chasuble; and now in Translations as Manus). In the spring, I have acted in the Masquerader’s One Festival. I also appeared in the USNA Glee Club’s 2014 production of Spamalot as King Arthur. In high school, I had roles in Fame the Musical, West Side Story, and Romeo and Juliet as Mercutio. After high school, but before the Academy, I attended the Catholic University of America where I appeared in the Drama School’s main stage production of The Crucible as Judge Hawthorne.
Why did you want to be in Translations produced by the United States Naval Academy Masqueraders?
I love acting and I am proud to be a Masquerader. I am always happy to participate in a Masquerader show, no matter the play or subject matter.
What does this production of Translations say to your generation?
Today, Americans expect that English should be spoken universally. When traveling, many young Americans expect that they can find assistance easily by speaking English. This is not the case. There are likely more people who don’t know English in the world than do know it. This play shows how such expectations are wrong.
Who do you play in Translations and how do you relate to your character?
I play Manus, the hedge-school teacher’s son, in the show. Manus is described as being thin and small, but with a hardness about him. Physically, I am definitely a type-cast. In terms of our emotional and spiritual connection, I am a relatively straight and narrow individual who likes order. I exaggerate it a bit with Manus so that it translates visually on the stage, giving him a little more displeasure in other people’s short comings or more embarrassment.
What do you admire about your character and what do you not admire?
Manus is a devoted teacher. He is hard on his students, but genuinely wants them to succeed. Like any human, he grows weary with his work, but he experiences great joy when his students finally succeed. He is perhaps the most romantic character in the play, even though Yolland is officially the starry eyed one. He is romantic because of his love for knowledge and longing to please his finance. He is, however, definitely weak willed. As the play progresses, you think that he gets stronger, but his exit is hardly impressive.
What have been the challenges you have encountered while preparing for your role and how have you overcome these challenges? How did your director help you?
Just like any character, Manus has a complicated back story which explains his physical shortcomings and his failure to leave his home despite his lack of pay and the lack of respect he is given. It was challenging to really realize where Manus was coming from. The other aspect that was particularly challenging was balancing his external sternness with the caring, motherly qualities that lie within him. Often, this character will jump between these traits within seconds and it is hard to make sure each emotional change or alteration is consistent each time I perform.
What is your big highlight in the show and what do we learn about your character when you perform it?
Manus’ most triumphant, and yet most disappointing scene is the beginning of act three. He is running away like a coward but his best qualities shine; his capabilities as a caretaker, his love of learning and teaching, and his faith in homeland.
What have you learned about yourself during this whole process?
Manus is perhaps the most emotionally vivid character I have played, so I have definitely been able to stretch as an actor.
What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Translations?
I really want the audience to see how capable the Masqueraders are in performing raw and difficult pieces.
What roles would you like to play in the future?
I really have no preference. I love doing shows that are widely regarded since they appealing to audiences and since they are so frequently performed, I get to play a famous role in a way that is different from what an audience member has seen before. That is the magic of the stage; that to one actor may play Hamlet as a certifiable lunatic, while another plays him as a cunning trickster.
Meet the Cast of ‘Translations’ at Masqueraders at the United States Naval Academy–Part 1: Jonson Henry.
Meet the Cast of ‘Translations’ at the Masqueraders at The United States Naval Academy–Part 2: Chris Hudson.
Meet the Cast of ‘Translations’ at the Masqueraders at The United States Naval Academy Part 3: Megan Rausch.