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Fiver Malcolm Steps Out of His Comfort Zone to Star in "Fences"

To watch Malcolm on stage at Essex Street Academy, you would think he was a natural performer; however, acting hasn’t always been a passion of his. Prior to his leading role in "Fences" Malcolm had never acted in anything, but when it was announced that his school would be staging a production of this Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson he knew he wanted to try out for a part. Malcolm was assigned to read "Fences" for class during his freshman year, and it was his favorite book that year due to its captivating plot and seamless combination of comedy and drama. He hoped to be cast in the lead role as Troy Maxson, and was very happy to learn that he had earned it.

Of course, landing the part was just the beginning. Malcolm and his cast-mates rehearsed the play for four months leading up to their stage performances. While Malcolm admits to being overwhelmed by his role at first, he found his lines easier to remember with each rehearsal: “Troy speaks about 90% of the time. That’s a lot of lines, so I thought, how am I going to remember all of them? But as we kept rehearsing, the lines just stuck to me.”

Leading up to opening night, Malcolm became more and more nervous. Being cast as the lead character comes with a lot of attention and the pressure to perform well. Malcolm credits the support of his cast-mates and stage directors for helping him through that first performance: “I was really nervous, it was my first play ever. I got the biggest role and I thought, what if I mess up? The show could be ruined because of one little mess up from me. And everybody kept telling me, just say what you remember, if you mess up one of the lines, we’ll make it work. And it relaxed me.”

Malcolm and his cast-mates put on an excellent production of "Fences," and while Malcolm is proud of their performances, he admits that the final show was a bittersweet experience. His cast-mates had become like family members to him over their months of rehearsal, and they were all sad to see the play that they had worked so hard on come to a close. Says Malcolm of their final performance: “We knew we just had to put on the best show that we could possibly put on. And that’s exactly what happened. Nobody dropped a line, everybody was using the full range of emotions - it was wonderful.”

Malcolm’s experience has helped him discover his natural talent and passion for acting. He hopes to continue to act in school productions, and his dream role would be to star in his favorite musical, "Aladdin." However, he would never have discovered his love of acting had he not been motivated to try out for "Fences." He shares the following advice:

 “Don’t be afraid to try new things. Honestly, at first I didn’t want to try out for this play because I had stage fright, I was scared to be loud and be out there. But then after the play I realized that acting might just be my calling. So always put yourself out there, always do things that you might not normally so you can get a new experience."

Malcolm and the Fiver Team at Essex Street Academy 
after a performance of "Fences"