King’s Fork student performs Shakespeare

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

King’s Fork High 10th-grader Justin Libbey is performing in a Governor’s School for the Arts production at Old Dominion University.

Sure, he’s not the first kid to hatch this plan: catch a bus to New York after graduating high school and start an acting career on Broadway.

Most of them probably catch a bus in the opposite direction six weeks later. But if you never go, you never know, and King’s Fork High School 10th-grader Justin Libbey gets a steely glint in his eye when describing his plans.

“I want to be an actor really bad,” Libbey said Tuesday in a studio at the Governor’s School of the Performing Arts on Norfolk’s Granby Street.


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As on every weekday afternoon, he was there to rehearse for his upcoming role as Dromio of Ephesus in Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.”

“I want to go to New York and jump right into it,” Libbey added with a spark of enthusiasm.

He knows the chances of success are likely slim but plans to roll the dice all the same, saying, “At any point 80 percent of actors are out of work. You’ve got to say yes to any job.”

For Libbey, people of the stage are more than mere vendors of entertainment. “I just feel like theater gives insight into human psychology,” he said. “You can look at one subject from different perspectives.”

The Shakespeare play is Libbey’s second stage show. It opens at Old Dominion University’s University Theater at 7 p.m. on May 10, repeating the performance at 8 p.m. on May 12 and May 13 and 2 p.m. on May 13.

Libbey’s first play was “The Foreigner” by American playwright Larry Shue, which is set in a fishing lodge in rural Georgia.

If his plans for an acting career don’t turn out, Libbey has a back up. “I’m interested in the medical field as well,” he said. “(But) I love the stage and I’m really fascinated by theater of the absurd.”

Libbey offers advice for dealing with nerves on the stage. “Going back to the breath definitely helps you focus and relax,” he said.

He says the experience of leaving school every day at 2 p.m. and traveling to the Governor’s School is enriching but not easy.

“It’s a huge transition … it’s like on a college level,” he said. “At time it’s hard to juggle, especially when you’re in rehearsal for a show.”

Tickets, $15 for adults and $10 for students, are available by calling 866-967-8167, or online at