Men and women of multiple talents are not uncommon at The First Catwalk. In fact, I’d say it’s a defining quality of every notable feature. Griffin Osborne, well, he is no exception to this fact.
Griffin Osborne, 18, is currently studying in the world-renown Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. An actor, a writer, an incredible mind, it is wonderously peculiar at how he managed to acquire such talent in his short duration of a career, so far. It was an incredible experience, learning his past, present, and future, and something that I am more than proud to present to the world.
Even the most talented of actors range from their beginnings in the arts. From commercials as infants to extras in their middle-ages, the range is broad and undefined. Where does Mr. Osborne lie in this spectrum? “It really depends if you ask me or my dad. My first role was Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream when I was about 7, but my dad likes to tell stories of when I was five or six hanging up a blanket for a curtain and directing my cousins in staged versions of Disney movies. So I guess I’ve been performing for awhile but my first interactions with acting as an art form came with Midsummers and quite honestly, I hated it. I think I liked the idea of people looking at me and starring in the show more than the actual ‘craft’ of what I was doing, but I was seven so that’s to be expected. I actually got in a lot of trouble because I refused to learn any of my lines until the night before the show, and that night I promised to myself I would never act again. Then I walked out onstage, said my first line, and now I’m here in New York studying it everyday. It was a shaky start but as soon as I was in front of an audience I knew this was what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life.”
So, not entirely the best of beginnings, but it seems as though he managed to gain his footing. Hopefully his first, major role was something of a more joyous experience. “Well this sort of goes back to Midsummers in third grade, which was a pretty large role and a lot of pesky memorization. I would say my first large role that was a bit heftier than what I had done before was Man in Chair in the Drowsy Chaperone. The writers of that musical did something I think is very beautiful in crafting this character that acts as the bridge between audience and dramatic action without ever really becoming a part of either world. It’s more than just a narrator that traces the plot it’s a three dimensional character that feels and hurts and wants to be better. In that role, I got to improvise, work on comedic timing, and really relax within the role and I think that’s the first time I stepped away from just performing a character and really understanding it.”
Well, from roles as such, Mr. Osborne has certainly built an impressive skill set, allowing him not only grow as an actor, but a writer. Channeling his inner creativity, he was able to construct wonderful masterpieces, such as his first, written play. “My first play was a piece called As the Ashes Rise, which I wrote and produced at my high school in my freshman year. It dealt with faith and loss and a man questioning his belief system in the face of unexpected tragedy. People responded to it really well, and it was sort of just something I pumped out in a couple hours at home. I’d always been writing short stories, poems, failed attempts at novels, but there was something about a script that came really naturally to me and was overwhelmingly fun. I enjoyed creating something that was both interesting and dynamic to read as well as interesting and dynamic to stage; I wanted the piece to work as something you could sit down with in an armchair and read like a newspaper or sit down in a theater seat and engage with onstage. Playing to both of those goals I found challenging and exciting.”
And that challenge allowed for the growth of his writing talent, which can be seen in his recent publication by Samuel French. “So I was very fortunate in that for the last two years I have been able to spend a portion of my summer at Stagedoor Manor which is a performing arts training center in the Catskills. There they have a competition called Dramafest where kids from all over submit short plays, with the chance of being selected to both direct the play onstage and get published by Samuel French in an anthology. I was fortunate enough to win both years I attended Stagedoor, so two of my plays Chapter 8 (2013) and Fallen Suns (2014) have been published by them. Chapter 8 is on its surface about a young man who finds a book that details his entire life story from beginning to end, and the moral consequences of owning such an object. Yet really, for me, the story is about the relationship between the young man Jacob and his best friend Damon. That friendship has to be strong, has to be grounded otherwise the supernatural elements become gimmick and have no weight. This is the same philosophy I take into my other plays like Fallen Suns which again on the surface is a story about PTSD after an alien abduction but is really kept grounded in reality with its focus on human relationships and what it means to be good.”
If that is not astounding enough, he also has a collection of his own plays published, eight of them, to be exact. “The whole thing started off with me wanting a collection of the eight plays I had written in high school, then sort of blew up into this giant thing that I’m so absolutely blown away by and so thankful for. The title Writer’s Block comes from those aspects of playwriting I find immensely attractive: the rather Romantic struggle of grappling with your own insecurities, the complex ideas you’re dealing with on the page, the building of something beautiful from the ground up. It really stands to track my progress over four years; I didn’t go back and edit or update any of my early work. I think that’s what makes it different than just an anthology of eight plays but really a snapshot of myself as a writer over this period of time; something I can look back on and cringe at how jaded my dialogue came across or how apt I am to let my characters monologue for three pages at a time. Primarily, the book has served as a medium to get my work out there and into people’s hands. I’m always so flattered and humbled by the response each piece receives or when someone asks to produce one at their school or college. A friend and I recently looked at a map of the United States and put a little dot where productions have taken place and seeing my work spread out to so many people is just a dream come true.”
With the undeniable talent and potential Mr. Osborne possesses, the question comes to, where is the best institution to harness and perfect his innate abilities? He believed that The Experimental Theatre Wing of NYU was the most obvious option. “Oh man, how to explain ETW? Vaguely, the aim of the studio is to offer each performer a palette of knowledge from which they can choose and explore; approaching each theatrical exploit as a challenge. What can you figure out? What does that mean to you as an actor? A person? We ask questions of ourselves and others in the hope that we can create something new or see something in a new way. I’m sure there are a lot of ETW people reading this and shaking their heads but that’s the best way I know how to articulate it. It’s very physically and emotionally challenging and some days it takes everything I have to pull myself out of bed but each and every time I’m so glad and thankful I do. The people there are some of my favorite people on the planet and I could not be more excited to learn from them and study with them and get super weird with them. As to rumors regarding rampant nudity in the studio? No comment.”
Living among aspiring artists, seeing crafts perfected on a daily basis, I have come to witness future greats, people who will make a mark on the world larger than any streak that has been painted before. Mr. Griffin Osborne is among this crowd. Talented, tenacious, and terrifically placed, I hold the utmost certainty that I will be seeing Mr. Osborne amount to things greater than even he can imagine.