Adam Henderson stars in Jerusalem, at the Jericho Arts Centre June 7-30. (photo from United Players)
The play Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth sees its debut in Vancouver this month at the Jericho Arts Centre and its lead actor, Adam Henderson, is a member of the Vancouver Jewish community.
Henderson grew up in New York City, moved to Winnipeg as a teenager and, after studying and working as an actor in England for 20 years, relocated to Vancouver in 2000. “I wanted to have a more balanced life than was possible in England, with more time to raise a family,” said Henderson, who is married with two children at home ages 5 and 12.
Asked about his Jewish identity, he said he describes himself as “a New York Jew from a mixed upbringing, but Jewish by birth and culturally interested.”
Henderson’s acting career began at the Manitoba Theatre Centre when he was 17 and has taken him all over the world, including to Israel, where he starred in War Shepherds in the 1980s. Today, in addition to doing live theatre, he teaches accents and dialects at the Vancouver Film School, and voice acting at the University of British Columbia. As a dialect coach, he specializes in helping other actors with their accents and dialogues, and he records audiobooks, too. “Vancouver doesn’t easily support actors, so we have to do other things to make our acting happen,” he explained.
As he rehearsed for Jerusalem – a play that references a poem by William Blake and not the holy city of Jerusalem – he was also working on Altered Carbon, a television show for which he’s coaching an actor from Berlin to sound more American. “It’s exciting for me because my family is originally from Berlin and I have a strong connection with the city,” he told the Independent.
Jerusalem, presented by United Players, is about a squatter called Johnny “Rooster” Byron and his retinue, and has a cast of about 16, Henderson said. “It’s quite a remarkable play and was made famous by Mark Rylance, one of my heroes, who played the role of Rooster. It’s a great adventure taking on a role that he’s put his stamp on, and it’s both intimidating and inspiring, because he sets the bar quite high!”
Henderson said anyone who enjoys classical theatre will enjoy Jerusalem, a play rich in language and “quite epic.” As for his lifestyle move to Vancouver almost two decades ago, that’s worked out well, he added.
“I have a successful family and I can organize my schedule to be there to raise my kids. In London, I was constantly busy with my career and, though it’s an exciting place to work, it’s harder in that environment to have a stable life. In Vancouver, I don’t travel much and there’s more contact with nature, which I find calming.”
Jerusalem runs June 7-30 at the Jericho Arts Centre. Tickets, which range from $22-$28, are available at the door or online at unitedplayers.com.
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net.