One would hardly expect an actor who recently performed a 25-minute
monologue at the Loeb Experimental Theater to be shy, but Jack E.
Fishburn ’08 seems possessed of a certain soft-voiced, secretive
tendency. It’s only on our way out of Adams Dining Hall that the
English and American Literature and Languages concentrator and Adams
resident deigns to mention, ever so quietly, that he “sort of went to
Eton.” Or that one of his motivations for attending a college outside
his native Britain was the fact that he’s “quite pro-American, really,
but I try to keep it quiet here because otherwise people would get big
Luckily for the actor, his own head seems to have retained its
normal size despite the fact Harvard theater has become quite
pro-Fishburn in recent years. After a marathon of appearances on
Harvard stages that culminated with his participation in three
Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) shows last semester, Fishburn
has restricted himself to just one play this term, describing it as
“methodone to the sort of heroin.” Yet given the intensity of the work
Fishburn put into the production—where the previously mentioned
monologue constituted the entirety of one of the four short plays
presented in last weekend’s “First Shots”—it’s unlikely that he’ll be
able to break his addiction anytime soon.
Though Fishburn didn’t start acting particularly early, he
became heavily involved in theater during high school and chose to
continue with acting when he came to Harvard.
hadn’t really done any [drama] until I was 13. I think I was “second
rose seller.” That’s about as far as it went. And then I auditioned and
started acting and did it all through high school. When I got here I
got a good first play which was “Equus.” The next semester I did the
“Oresteia” on the mainstage, which was fun because it was Mike Donahue
[’05] who’s now at the Yale School of Drama...Last semester I did
“Knock” with Jess Burkle [’06].
Though Fishburn has had his share of roles on the Loeb
Mainstage, one of the major components of his participation in Harvard
drama has been his appearances in festivals featuring shorter plays,
like HRDC’s annual 24-hour plays project and “First Shots,” which
brought new student directors to the Loeb Ex.
I was one shot. Can one be a
shot? It was one of [Alan Bennett’s] pieces from the mid-90s for
British television...I played a park attendant with pedophilic
tendencies. It was a really powerful piece.
Though Fishburn says he has an interest in “finding out
whether I have an affinity for the training side,” he says he doesn’t
regret having come to a college without a drama concentration.
I don’t think it’s the fact
that there’s no drama concentration in terms of whether I would have
done it or not. I think it’s the fact that there’s no awareness of
theater at Harvard, which might be because nobody knows where the
theater is...I hope the new theater will [remedy this]. I hope it’ll
have enough of a turnover of plays to attract the eyes of students.
And despite his secret fondness for life across the
Atlantic, Fishburn admits that there’s one part of American culture
he’ll never be able to understand.
I don’t get the American
fascination with the musical, which might be related to my inability to
sing, dance, look good in a dress...Except West Side Story. I’ve always
wanted to be a Jet.