Original article no longer available
Written by Heredy Bono
Monday, 22 June 2009
Director Andy Libby estimates that at least 600 actors have been part of “the “Eavesdropper” cast in the past three years, with some of them continuously being part of the show during all seasons. Like Pedro Shanahan and Drue Delio, while others drop out of the cast after a few performances.
Presently meanwhile, “Eavesdropper” features a unique actor who happens to be totally blind and requires a white cane to walk around in real life. But on stage performs a sighted role, making the audience never wonder he ever has been blind.
Brazilian actor Gustavo Brasileiro leaves his cane in the dressing room and walks into the stage without any help. Gustavo joined the cast last February to perform the Eavesdropper, the title character , which requires to remain two hours in front of the audience without any break backstage.
Since he rotates that role with two other actors, he later took over another two roles so he could be present in all shows: the cowboy stripper and Quinton, a crazy gay man who talks with his dead boyfriend on the phone.
Gustavo Brasileiro started acting when he was a teenager in Brazil, but later got a degree in economics and became a banker. Later, he moved to Los Angeles as an investment advisor for S corporations. In 2005, after struggling for over 10 years to save his eyesight, Gustavo lost his vision permanently and went through difficult times to readjust to his situation.
For awhile, he didn’t know what to do with his life, especially because a doctor put him on antidepressants that made things worse. Only in 2008 did he take a chance and quit the antidepressants and finally, apparently could see a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Then came to his mind that, despite being blind, he could be an actor like he always wanted to be, especially considering that he actually lives right in the heart of Hollywood.
Late in 2008, he started attending Andy Libby’s acting class, and quickly got the attention of his teacher, who invited him to join the cast of Lysystrata, and later, Eavesdropper.
In interview with Brazzil magazine, Gustavo explains that even before he knew he would be blind someday, he used to think it was unfair that entertainment producers use sighted actors to perform blind people roles.
So, today, Gustavo believes that his mission might be a blind actor who acts like a sighted person in a way to empower disabled people. Following some highlights of our interview:
Brazzil – How do you feel sharing the stage with 15 sighted actors?
Gustavo – Actually, in the beginning, I had no idea how it would work out. I even considered to use an earwig to receive directions during the shows. But, Andy Libby said it would not be necessary. In fact, I gave a chance with a five-minute appearance last year on Lysistrata at Hollywood’s Complex Theater. And all casting members were extremely supportive and helpful. Then last February, a bigger challenge came up with an invitation to star in “Eavesdropper”. Again, my mobility on stage turned out to be impeccable, or according to some, maybe better than some sighted actors.
Brazzil – Do you want to be a movie star?
Gustavo – Actually, that would be great! I have started on stage because it’s the best way to prove that a blind actor who can do well in a live performance probably will have no issues in front of the camera. I believe my life experience, and especially the fact that I have been more focused and spiritual since I became totally blind, has made me much better actor than I was in my 20s back in Recife. On top of that, now, I can be a full-time actor. Since I have retired from my banking and investment advising careers, well – I hope.
Brazzil – A couple years ago, we reported that you had been a victim of assault and imprisonment and theft. What happened after that? Did the suspects get convicted?
Gustavo – Despite all my efforts, the Los Angeles District Attorney said it would be very difficult to investigate a crime whose weapons happened to be syringes filled with methamphetamines. However, the credit card companies and banks have been prosecuting them. For me, it was an experience that empowered a lot. After being able to get rid of a bunch of criminals with one of them jumping from my third floor window and breaking his ankles on the ground, I am only proud of myself and ashamed of Los Angeles’s Police Department. If they had done exactly what I told them to do, no suspects would be able to escape and our city would now be safer.
Brazzil – How do you see the ongoing recession?
Gustavo – I was suspecting the United States to go into a depression already in the middle of the Bush Administration. However, they were able to keep filling the market with cash originating from those crazy sub-prime mortgages. I have to tell you that a banker has to be very high on cocaine, methamphetamines, or psychiatric drugs to lend money the way they did. Wall Street and the big multinationals really now to manipulate the American Media class.
I’m glad Brazil, meanwhile, didn’t follow U.S.’s path, but rather took its own course. I remember when, in the 1990s they wanted to privatize my BANCO do Brasil. Thank God we didn’t let that happen! Brazil is getting out of the recession must faster than the U.S. because the Brazilian government has its own banks. Here in the U.S., the treasury provides over 1 trillion dollars to private banks, which do not take orders from the government, so they do whatever they want to do with our money.
Brazzil – What do you foresee for the U.S. economy?
Gustavo – I think Obama is doing the right thing: once the Chinese and the OPEC countries decided to hold our U.S. dollar, why not print more dollars to prevent a terrible depression? I expect the U.S. dollar to depreciate further until the point that the U.S. will become cheaper and more competitive, bring back many of those industries that moved abroad in the past few decades. Of course, the best of America is the ability to re-invent itself in a way that no one else can do. That is what, in my view guarantees U.S. leadership. During the George W. Bush era, there was less freedom and no incentives to do what Americans best can do: innovation.
Brazzil – So, for how long will you be in the show, and how can people gain attendance?
Gustavo – The Eavesdropper is L.A.s longest running play, and we will probably keep it going for many years to come. The producers are now making a feature film based on the same story, and I’m hoping to be cast for it.