UF School of Theatre + Dance alumnus Stephen Ruffin (BFA ‘14) performed in the civil rights play, Too Heavy for Your Pocket.
To Heavy for Your Pocket is a play about 20-year-old Bowzie, who becomes the first in his town to attend college after receiving a scholarships from Fisk University. It is set in in rural Tennessee in 1961 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
“He's very intelligent, energetic and a bit of a class clown,” Ruffin said. “He's the first person in his whole town to get accepted to college. He lives with his powerhouse wife, Evelyn, and next door to their lifelong best friends, Tony and Sally. Throughout the play, Bowzie struggles with balancing his personal happiness and his social responsibility to better the country for his future children.”
Ruffin said he never felt more connected to a character than when he was playing Bowzie.
“I found so many similarities between Bowzie and I, which was a real blessing because his struggles and his pains and his motivations are so integral to his full journey,” he said.
He said that he found out about the role after auditioning for a different Alliance Theatre event.
“I first got wind of this part when the Alliance asked me to do a scene from it for their "Taste of the Season" event, which is a showcase of little snippet from each show in the upcoming season,” he said. “Some time after that I was called in to formally audition for the role. I auditioned for the casting director, director and writer all together. Then they went to New York to audition up there as well. I sat on pins and needles for three weeks. Then they auditioned me once more, this time though Skype with the director and I booked it!”
He also said that it has always been his dream to perform on the Alliance stage.
“To be recognized and trusted by them is an incredible feeling,” he said. “It's always a gift to be able to tell the stories of the countless number of black people and other people that fought tirelessly and died for our equality. It's an amazing thing to be able to be that voice at a time when that fight is still so strong and so necessary. The playwright, Jiréh Breon Holder, is an unbelievable young black writer just out of Yale’s MFA program. I HAD to be a part and will throw myself at anything he's working on in the future.”
Ruffin will also be playing Valentine again in the remount of The Two Gentlemen of Verona with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, where he is a company member. After that he will be playing Sam/Juliet in Shakespeare in Love at the Alliance Theatre. He is also looking forward to his first major film project that releases in May, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, and his first guest starring role in fourth season of Survivor’s Remorse on Starz.
To keep up with Ruffin, follow him on his Facebook page by clicking here.