To be cast in a play by esteemed playwright Charles Mee at Brooklyn’s acclaimed BAM Theater is a privilege few actors can claim. José Leon ’14 earned it just two years after graduating.

To be cast in a play by the esteemed playwright Charles Mee at Brooklyn’s acclaimed BAM Harvey Theater is a privilege few actors can claim, but José Leon ’14 has earned it just two years after graduating from college.

“It’s actually a party. It doesn’t feel like your typical play. There’s no stress around it,” said Leon, who had been part of the play The Glory of the World since its beginning at Louisville, Kentucky’s Humana Festival.

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Catholic monk, poet, spiritual anarchist and Buddhist thinker, Thomas Merton. In The Glory of the World, 17 men honor this occasion. As they make toasts and spout quotes about the many ideologies Merton embodied, they highlight the difficulties in knowing what makes a human being, and whether a full life can be enjoyed if it is so full of contradictions. The ensemble performers, made up of Leon and nine others, were apprentices at the Humana Festival when they were told they were going to be part of a new show. From there the play quickly transferred to BAM, taking Leon with it.

“The Louisville audition happened for José because he attended the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival conference and Michael Legg from Louisville was there and held auditions,” said Margaret Lally ’82, associate professor of theatre. “What a joy it was to see José on the stage of the BAM Harvey Theater as a working actor, living his dream.”

Before landing the role in The Glory of the World, Leon had performed in New York’s Beckett Theatre in a show called Heads, in which he played a freelance photojournalist who has been taken hostage in the Middle East.

But it is not just the stage that Leon has tackled; he has also appeared in the CBS series Blue Bloods and found an agent to represent him.

“One of the last plays I did was at Adelphi. It was a new play by Pia Wilson, directed by Margaret Lally, and that really sparked this thing for new plays with me,” Leon said in a brief interview in January following the BAM performance. “My aim right now though is to get more involved with TV. Pilot season is coming up and they’re going to be casting things here and there. I just want to build up my résumé.”

Despite his deserved success and driving ambition, Leon still cites Adelphi as the main force behind all he has achieved.

“I’m so grateful for everything that happened. [My Adelphi professors] guided me in a way that I never thought would work for me. They opened up a great path for me. If it wasn’t for Adelphi, I wouldn’t be here at all. It’s all thanks to Adelphi,” Leon said.

This piece was published in AU VU Spring 2016 issue.

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