In this second American Buffalo interview, I had the opportunity to talk with David Chattam, who plays Don in Act 1’s production of this lesser-known Mamet script. We started off discussing his theatre background.
I don’t have the kind of extensive theatre schooling that some people do. I just sort of fell into it some years ago. My first experience was an adult acting class with the Metro Nashville Parks Department in 2001 or 2002. Phil Brady was in that class as well. I remember walking out on stage the first time and thinking ‘this is kinda cool.’ I decided to stick with it, so I just kept auditioning and here I am. Acting is what I do. It’s tough, but it beats sitting behind a desk all day. I love live theatre. I got my start in film, and didn’t really care for theatre for a while, but when I tried it, the instantaneous reaction, the feedback, was just amazing. It’s a good feeling when people are really into it, and it’s scary when they’re not into it.
In the intervening time, you’ve done a lot of shows. What were your favorite roles?
I’ve had a lot of different characters. I played three characters in Impressionism with Tennessee Women’s Theatre Project. I did my own make-up for an older gentleman named Mr. Linder, and I basically played my grandfather. That was fun. My character in Bud not Buddy with Nashville Children’s Theatre was similar, but they padded me up because the character was bigger. He was a lion on the outside, but a little bunny inside, so that was cool. I did Titus Andronicus with Act 1 and played Arron the Moor. That was also a great character: he was bad.
What about this production will really catch the audience’s attention?
The dialogue itself is written really well. You can have a lot of dialogue that doesn’t really say anything, but American Buffalo isn’t like that. It’s a simple story line, but the characters are so real, they could be anyone we know off the streets. It’s hard to explain, but the way they interact is so rich.
What’s your next role?
My next scheduled production is with NCT again, called The Watsons go to Birmingham 1962. It’s about the Birmingham church bombing, but it’s handled in a way that’s appropriate for children. It will hit home with children and adults alike. They do really amazing work there at Nashville Children’s Theatre.
American Buffalo runs September 30th through October 15th at The Darkhorse. Tickets are available through TicketsNashville.com.
Check out my interview with the show’s director: In the Green Room with Ryan Williams, director of Act 1’s American Buffalo