This Verse Business: Robert Frost’s poems brought to Ford Center
Gordon Clapp, best known as the Emmy-winning, Tony-nominated actor who played Det. Greg Medavoy on “NYPD Blue,” will take the Ford Center stage on Thursday night to perform “Robert Frost: This Verse Business.”
A New Hampshire native, Clapp said he’s felt a lifelong connection to Frost. Though he’s traveled across the globe, Frost’s distinct New England voice is a familiar comfort, he said.
“I remember seeing him on television at Kennedy’s inauguration when I was 12 years old, and I began reading his poetry when I was young,” Clapp said. “I went away to boarding school the last two years of high school, so I like to say I took (Frost) with me and he brought me home.”
While living in Canada as an out-of-work actor several years ago, Clapp said he read Frost’s official three-volume annotated biography. From that day on, he said, it became his life’s mission to take the stage as Frost.
“Many years later, it was a serendipitous moment when a friend of mine had come across a script that was a one-man Robert Frost show,” Clapp said. “I wrote to the playwright, Andy Dolan, and we’ve been working on it ever since.”
The pair started out modestly, putting on shows for friends and family. Clapp said he worked to perfect the Bard of New England’s persona by watching and listening to hundreds of hours of recorded “talks,” as Frost called them.
Clapp and Dolan have taken the show to four regional theatres in New England, from Vermont to New Hampshire. However, the farthest south they’ve ever been is a show at a Baptist college in Missouri. Bringing Frost to life far below the Mason-Dixon line is an opportunity Clapp said he’s eager to take.
No two performances of “This Verse Business” are alike, with poems being added or taken away, voice inflections changing depending on the crowd and Clapp’s mood.
“There’s just so much to learn about writing, about nature and human relationships. It’s something that has been lost over the last 30 or 40 years with all the technology,” Clapp said.
“It’s a perspective I think we need, in this day and age. (Frost) is somebody who could just communicate so beautifully with words, with language.”
Clapp said he hopes “Frostaceans” – his affectionate term for fans of the poet – as well as those who aren’t familiar with Frost’s work will reach a new understanding of who Frost was and what motivated him creatively.
“It’s very personal to me. When I begin speaking in his voice, it takes me to another place and almost another time,” Clapp said. “He’s not just a Hallmark card poet; there’s more going on there.”
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