Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meet the Cast of UNNATURAL ACTS

Frank De Julio talks about his experience as a co-author and actor in UNNATURAL ACTS.

Who do you play in UNNATURAL ACTS? Can you describe your character's role in the play?  

I play Keith Percy Smerage. He is a transfer student from Tufts University, which automatically makes him an outcast among the boys at Harvard, and he is an aspiring actor whose passion is endless. I see him as a bleeding heart with a desperate need to be accepted, who falls in love for the first time in the play.

How do you relate or connect with him?

I connect with him on so many levels. From the research we know that he was very close with and had great love for his family. He was an artist who desperately wanted to better himself and tap into his full potential. In the letters he wrote to his mother, Grace Smerage, he had self-esteem and confidence issues. He came from a working class family and had to really learn how to survive. I moved to NYC two weeks after graduating from high school when I was 17, on my own, without knowing anyone. I lived in a hostel for a year and I have been here for seven years now. The questions on my mind since the day I arrived here have been: "How can I get closer to what I want out of life?" In this way, I believe Keith and I are a lot alike. I have been working on this character on a daily basis for the past two years. He has honestly helped me become a better person and artist. He has made me fully realize that acting is about paying tribute to the person you are playing. Truly. Serving that person and giving them as much credit as possible.

Please tell us about your role as one of the co-authors of the play. What has the process been like for you as both a writer and an actor?

When Tony offered me the role of Keith I was thrilled. I had no idea what I was in for and how special this would become to me. I quickly became obsessed with Keith. I had never considered myself a writer. I tried to help create a person who did not get a chance he deserved in life, by finally giving him the chance he deserved. The process as a writer and actor has been a very interesting one. We have been working on it for so long now and gone though so many different variations of structure, arch and character development, that every word in this play brings back at least five memories I have from the past two years. I always work better on my feet and a lot of this play was inspired by improvisation sessions we had at the beginning of our process (4 hour sessions 5 days a week doing writing work and on our feet improving in character). That's where I really found Keith.

Why do you think this play is important?

This is a story that has been hidden for the last 91 years. It needs to be heard. The men who went through this horrible event deserve to have their story told.

If you wanted the audience to take away one thing from UNNATURAL ACTS, what would that be?

The reality that this event actually happened and there are so many other stories out there like this that we have no idea a
bout. And unfortunately, they are still happening today.


  1. An untold story that definitely needed to be told.

    Thank you, Tony and Frank, for bringing this story to the stage.

    We, as gay men, need to realize that injustice can rear its ugly head and institutions will always try to bury the truth.