Dr. Kevin Radaker, an English professor at AU, is no rookie when it comes to performing one-man dramatic shows. He has been performing as Henry David Thoreau for 25 years and also has performed as C.S. Lewis for several years. He has now added a portrayal of former Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill.
This past Friday evening, Radaker performed his portrayal of Churchill in the AU Nicholson Library. The event was appropriately titled: “An Evening with Winston Churchill.”
Students, professors, and many people from the surrounding area were in attendance on Friday. When asked about his thoughts on the outcome of the event, Radaker had nice things to say. “I was very pleased with how large Friday night’s audience turned out to be, and I was very impressed with how attentive and responsive they were,” he said.
Radaker even went on to say that he felt the event was his best performance of Churchill so far. “As someone who has been offering one-man shows for 25 years now, I have come to realize that some audiences can energize me through their responsiveness, through their sensitivity to the emotional swings of the script.”
“Friday night’s audience inspired me with their sensitive responsiveness. I think that Friday night’s performance, my fourteenth as Churchill, was my best performance thus far, and I credit the audience to a great degree,” he added.
Churchill was one of the most polarizing figures during the 20th century and is well known for not only being a strong and famed leader, but also being quite the wordsmith. Churchill gave many iconic speeches and has many notable quotations from his time as Prime Minister.
Radaker noted that he was particularly drawn to Churchill’s linguistics. “Among all of the dimensions of Churchill that I enjoy portraying, I am especially fond of his brilliant sense of humor and his inspiring rhetorical eloquence. He truly did inspire the British nation in its darkest hour,” he said.
Radaker also said that portraying Churchill comes with its fair share of difficulties. “Churchill was known for rehearsing his speeches for hours on end before he delivered them, so the most challenging aspect of performing as Churchill is to imitate the marvelous cadences and powerful crescendos to be found in his masterfully crafted speeches,” Radaker said.
Radaker was in character for nearly an hour and a half Friday night. The evening began with Dr. Jaye Rogers introducing the crowd to the era that Radaker would be portraying. Then, Radaker came on stage.
He gave a monologue as Churchill, quoting Churchill for large portions of his speech. He spoke as if attendees were at a dinner in New York City shortly after the end of World War II. He spoke about Hitler, the U.S. involvement in the war and the state of London during the war.
Students in attendance who have taken Radaker’s courses were able to experience a different side of him during the performance.
After Radaker finished his monologue, he remained in character as Churchill for a while longer to engage with the audience in a Q&A. To close the event, Radaker answered several audience questions as himself.
Radaker will continue to perform his Churchill portrayal, and more information about his performing past and about the Churchill portrayal specifically can be found at: http://winstonchurchilllive.com/about.html.