When theater gets creative, immersive or downright experimental, James Brunt is there, ready to wrap himself around a role. You might have seen him butchering meat in a former slaughterhouse or wielding a razor blade during a “not-haunted house” with Control Group Productions, bringing an anti-Muslim taxi driver to life in Mosque with the Black Actors Guild, interacting with his audience as a wolf in an immersive gnome home with the Rainbow Militia or sharing Five Points recipes and lore at the Savoy at Curtis Park. When he’s not helping break all the rules beyond the proscenium, Brunt expresses himself as a spoken-word poet and teaches improv basics to kids as a member of BAG.
How’s it going for Brunt as he follows his different drummer through life as an actor? Find out as he answers the Colorado Creatives questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
James Brunt: I would say my creative muse is my experience in life. All the pain that I have ever experienced, plus all the joyous moments, just wrapped into this giant ball of energy, always shifting around, waiting for me to mold it to my will. It's a wild thing to have around always. I use it in my acting and even when I dance and shift it into my body, from the words I speak through doing slam to the moments of breath I take when I need to relax and be at peace. It’s all full-circle.
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Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
They all have had a big impact on my life. Chadwick was a voice for POC, showing us in the roles that he played that anything is possible. While secretly battling cancer and as a black male, I would bring him back in a second if I could. He gave hope to a lot of people.
Same with Robin Williams: He taught us how to laugh and love and cry. But he was struggling with a lot of demons, and it reminds me to check on the people I love always.
Lastly, my friend Andrew, aka William Seward Bonnie, I would bring back, because I miss him. I miss the creativity that he shared with anyone he just happened to be around. From his poetry to his music, he was always changing the game — not just in your brain, but in your heart, as well. I’d give anything to be able to talk to him one last time.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
I love how supportive a lot of folks are — willing to create at any cost while changing the game up to create new things. The worst part is that people tend to get stuck in these repetitive shows that don't matter too much and they're just old and outdated.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Just realizing how important we are. We keep people happy and alive. Even in this pandemic, people are rushing to Netflix, etc., to escape. I just want people to support the folks who are giving you this help in these dark times. We need support so we can keep doing what we love and helping the human race find a way to cope with today's events.
Denver (or Colorado), love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I'm going to be here, because I still have some growing I need to do. But I know once that is complete, it’s on to the next destination. Art should be experienced and enjoyed any way possible, and help the next generation get ready for the hustle of being an artist.
What advice would you give a young hopeful in your field?
Never give up. If you actually want to go for your dreams, do it! Stop listening to other people in regards to your dreams and just live the way you want, without hesitation.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Vincent Patrick is an artist in Colorado who is always creating the most glorious of pictures, using everything from sci-fi to anime style. As kids, we would create short stories together — I would write, and he would draw. Today he is still drawing, and I’m doing slam poetry and acting. He inspires me every day to just make sure I do my craft, and I push myself cause not only is he my best friend, but he's always been my rival. We make each other better, so I appreciate his talents.
What's on your agenda now and in the coming year?
To push myself to my limits — not only in performance, but with my writing and directing as well. I just want to be one of the best artists ever. So I am going to use this weird time in the world to train my mind, body and soul. Every time you see me put something out, you will see the heart in it.
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Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
That's a very good question! Honestly, no clue. I think you are going to be seeing a lot of new faces popping up, in this new era of work we have to start making. The world has changed. Not even I know what's going to happen next.
Keep up with James Brunt and his upcoming performances on Facebook.