Langston Darby is continuously working. “Double time. All the time,” Darby comments as we recently talked on the phone one afternoon. Born in Laurel, Mississippi, Darby is an actor based in Philadelphia. This September, after completing an apprenticeship at the Walnut Street Theatre and growing into one of the strongest actors in the Philadelphia theater scene, he is departing for the Atlantic Acting School in New York on a full scholarship. “The Atlantic Acting School is tailor made for what I was looking for.”
The decision to venture to New York was a difficult one. At first, Darby expresses his anxieties about the full-time conservatory program. He asks, “How much will this sustain me after?” As our conversation continues, however, Darby reveals his sadness for leaving Philadelphia. “It’s a dagger in the heart,” Darby remarks as his describes the close relationships, personal and professional, he has gained over the past five years. Philadelphia has become Darby’s supportive web. After finishing his apprenticeship at the Walnut Street Theatre, Darby was offered a position teaching acting to children. “No matter the profession, everyone who teaches their craft for the first time talks about how they have to reconsider everything that they’re doing to make someone else understand. Teaching acting has made a lot of my work much more specific,” Darby says as he talks about his growth through teaching. Darby has also began comedy improv through ComedySportz Philadelphia. Improv has influenced the young actor to take acting risks. “I realized how even my scripted work could benefit from me letting go more and really focusing on what is going on around me moment-to-moment. Not only do I listen better, I now have a sense that my next line adds to the scene.” The opportunities in Philadelphia, from picking up improv techniques with ComedySportz Philadelphia and later Bright Invention to teaching to struggling with Uncle Tom’s Cabin: An Unfortunate History, have contributed to Darby’s larger growth.
“Philly taught me that you don’t need to be in LA, that you don’t need to be in New York.” After a successful last season full of tremendous opportunities, Darby fears that he is leaving at a vital time in his career. While he is upset to leave, he believes more training in New York is the next step in his path.
The Atlantic Acting School’s Full-Time Conservatory is offering two full scholarships for the first time. Darby will be attending the Atlantic Acting School on one of these scholarships. He had determined that he did not want an MFA, but instead was attracted to the rigorous training from actors and actresses within the industry, that the Atlantic Acting School offered. “Now that I am at this stage, I can take more ownership over the things I want to learn,” Darby mentions. He is interested in the school’s primary acting technique, Practical Aesthetics. First encountering Practical Aesthetics in A Practical Handbook for the Actor, and gravitating toward the technique’s concrete and literal essence, he will apprentice himself to the technique for the next two and a half years. Beyond Practical Aesthetics, Darby also strives to “fill in the gaps of my training.” Darby is drawn to the multilayered aspects of theater, such as voice-over, television, movies, and dancing. He says, “I am going to take advantage of every morsel of information.”
Darby has started a campaign to raise money and support for his upcoming experience. While Darby is receiving a scholarship, New York is still expensive. “Why should I receive any support?” Darby initially questions as we talk about his fundraiser. The hard working actor constantly considers his privilege and opportunities, however, as our conversation goes on, his perspective shifts. He shares, “I should not need to feel guilty for gaining resources.” Similar to the way theater companies raise money for new projects, Darby started this fundraiser to gather help from his surrounding communities to fund his upcoming endeavor. Instead of feeling guilty about asking for help, Darby has begun to embrace his campaign. “I’m going to ask for what I want.”
After unpacking his larger anxieties about leaving Philadelphia at a time when he is rapidly growing, Darby has one last anxiety: the potentially long and unfamiliar commute.
You can learn all about Langston’s work on www.langstondarby.com. If you’d like to give to his Indiegogo fundraising campaign, go to: life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/support-langston-s-big-step.