By Scott Fielding
The first time you meet Rafael, you’re bowled over by his smile. Then you realize it’s not just his smile, but his whole presence, smiling. Raf radiates. On stage or on-camera, he pops. You can’t not watch him.
Like the best of other such gifted actors, though, Rafael is entirely unselfish with his talent. He makes room for the other guy, for his partners. In short, he gives. He knows how to hit the ball back. How to and when to pass. As well as to shoot. And boy, can he shoot!
Talented. Smart. Intellectually curious. Motivated to excel. Super hard-working. Big-hearted. Generous. These are the qualities of character that define – begin to define – Rafael. Superlatives? Yes. And absolutely true, every one of them.
Rafael’s trained under my guidance at Michael Chekhov Actors Studio Boston for going on three years. After graduating from our Meisner Foundation Training program, he began the Chekhov Training. And Advanced Actor Training. And he’s still at it. Because he’s hungry to learn. His will to develop his craft and his love for the art of acting never flags. Rather, impressively, it continues to grow, along with his command over his own creative instrument. That makes him the kind of actor a teacher wants in class. That a director wants in his cast. Because he makes everyone around him better.
Rafael is that rare combination of actor who understands that acting is doing, and that doing is fueled by emotional need. He knows how to deliver an emotionally full performance grounded in purposeful action. Emotional vulnerability can be a challenge for the actor. Not so for Rafael. Or, let’s better say that he’s quick to rise to the challenge of the emotionally demanding role. And knock it out of the park. Which he does with relentless consistency.
Here’s a short story. We have a glass-paneled door at our studio from which actors enter and exit their scenes. Rafael was up. In his scene the character was coming home after an especially upsetting event. Raf prepared outside and then entered. He was furious. Volcanic. Everyone in the studio sat back and gasped. He stood a moment, rightly orienting himself, and slammed the door shut. Bang! Panes of glass shattered to the floor. As if his very heart had broken, Rafael fell to his knees and began to cry, then sob. Picking up the shards, he cried. Then sobbed. Like the panes, he too was shattered. As were we, his audience. The scene was devastating in its impact. Unforgettable.
That’s the kind of work I’ve come to expect from Rafael. He’s a terrific actor. Lucky you, if you have the opportunity to work with him.
Scott Fielding is the director of Michael Chekhov Actors Studio Boston; an internationally awarded stage director; Graduate Opera Studies faculty at New England Conservatory; and an actor with Off-Broadway, L.A. and Chicago stage credits. www.MichaelChekhovActorsStudioBoston.com