James Creer
By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Edmond Kwong/ImageWurx

SILICON VALLEY -- As you may know, JAMES CREER,  solo performance in JAMES STILL's remarkable play "LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT's  SHOULDER," in which he plays the role of  Alonzo Fields the White House's Chief Butler who served four U. S. Presidents, ( Hoover, (1929-1933), F.D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), Truman (1945-1853), and Eisenhower (1953) and their families)  was forced to close in March due to the pandemic, but actor JAMES CREER returned to San José in July, and will be playing the role on TABARD THEATRE's stage for three weeks in a stream broadcast performances starting on Friday JULY 24 and ending on Sunday, AUGUST 9th.

But each one of CREER's streamed performances in "LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT's SHOULDER," may be slightly DIFFERENT from each other, every night, because what the TABARD's THEATRE audience will be watching will be CREER the actor, acting the role in person, from the stage of the TABARD THEATRE in a live performance, which will be recorded every night as it is happening, and streamed to the audience. It will be like going to the theatre, on one particular night to see a show, but this time, instead of going to the theatre, you will see the show the night you wanted, in the privacy of your own home.

JAMES CREER as Alonzo Fields
JAMES CREER as Alonzo Fields

On  "LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT's SHOULDER," streamed live performance on its opening night, (July 24 at 8PM)  we meet Chief  Butler of the White House,  Alonzo Fields (CREER) the night in the year l953, when he appears to have just left his job at the White House, because he has a suitcase, standing next to him and he is well dressed, wearing a coat, leather gloves and a scarf,  sitting on a bus stop bench on Lafayette Park, Washington D.C. from where we could see the Washington Monument and the White House at a distance.  

With the camera focused on him, he introduces himself to the audience, but not by giving us his name, but by telling us in a dark tone soft voice and with each word is perfectly enunciated:  "I am the person who held the chairs of four U.S Presidents: Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. as the Chief Butler of the White House." letting the audience know immediately, how proud he feels of those twenty one years that he spent working in the White House.

As to reinforce his statement, he then begins mentioning some of the titles of the people   he came in contact with during those years:  Kings, Queens, dignitaries, Church's leaders, and movie stars. And then, he becomes introspective and reveals to the audience that working as a "domestic" in the While House was not something he had planned, because what he wanted to do with his life was to become a great singer. (We learn later on that he had studied music and learned German, French and Italian while learning to sing) but Black singers (Fields is Black) were not being hired as opera singers during the Depression, where the arts were dying, and he had to find work, any work, because he had a wife and a baby to support.

After the Premise of "LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT's SHOULDER," was established, and in a few words Alonzo, his main character was introduced to the audience, Playwright JAMES STILL, continues conveying his perfectly structured play  to  the audience in small episodes, view from the single point of view of Fields, in a  structure similar to a tapestry, in which each one of the yarns forming it, in this case, the different persons that Fields mentions during the play, his description of their brief encounters, his comments bout the President's wives, his observations about their tastes in food, the every day behavior of our Commanders in Chiet at home, while interacting with the people who work for them, while eating, ordering their servants, fighting with their wives mixed with years of  overheard conversations, and bits and pieces of his private life, are perfectly intewoven together.

But the amazing thing about this play, is that at the end, as we. the audience begin putting together all these bits and pieces, that Alonzo told us about, during the duration of the play, we come to the realization that that richpeople, or nobility, or people in high positions such as Kings, Queens, Presidents and Dignitaries, are basically not so different from us. That people from different countries, are not different from us. That people whose skin color is different from our skin color are not different from us. That humsn beingsl share the same humanity: the same shortcomings, the same wishes the same fears, failures, pain, and a million other things in common. That somce we all were created equal, there is equality in mankind.  

As for the acting, In the play, Alonzo (CREER) refers to himself as 'Black' because of the color of his skin, but the play is not about his race. He is proud of who he is, and he does not use his color as excuse, for not doing something or to blame people of prejudice against him. He respects himself. He Respects his family, and he behaves with dignity. He was raised believing that our own self esteem is more important that what other people think about us.

Another of his qualities, is he never passes judgment on any of the people he met. The only time he complains is when drunk ERROL FLYNN was rude to him and he had to put the movie star in his place. In all his other stories, he allows the audience to decide if what a person did was right or wrong. Interesting also in this play, is that when we analyze some of Alonzo's stories, we conclude that a Title, no matter how high, does not make a person. He, who is vulgar, will remain vulgar. He who is rude will use his or her tile to insult, He who is in power but lacks self esteem, will to make all others feel inferior, to make himself feel better. So at the end, we conclude that that we are, is not defined by race, by skin color, by education or by titles.  That who a person really is, is determined, by the way a person behaves with his fellow men. 

  JAMES CREER as Alonzo Fields

Here we should add, that when playing his role as Alonzo, JAMES CREER, he never gives the audience the impression to be "acting" a role.  He beging talking naturally, and his words take us to different places as we decide to listen to his conversation.

And the more he described to the audience the chunks of his life, we learned to respect him, even to admire his moral values, his behavior towards his parents, towards his wife towards his child.  And after listening to him sing, we fully understand the tremendous sacrifice that it may have been for this talented musician, to renounce to a career that may have given money and fame.

And Alonzo taught me, personally, something else. It taught me to re-check my values, because nobility is not something that is written in a piece of parchment paper. Each one of us demonstrates their nobility with our actions.

"LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT'S SHOULDERS" is produced by CATHY SPIELBERGER CASSETTA and JONATHAN RHYS WILLIAMS, The production was directed by DOUGH BAIRD. In the technical part, the production was directed by Technical Director CARSTEN KOESTER.

For information and tickets the public may call 408-679-2330 or visit www.tabardtheatre.org/tickets

The play will be shown on Friday July 31 @ 8pm. Saturday August 1 @ 8pm, Sunday, August 2  @ 2pm. Wednesday August 5 @12:30pm, Friday August 7 @ 8pm, Saturday, August 8 @ 8pm, and will end on Sunday August 9 @ 2 pm.