Living for the stage
Adolescent conquers dyslexia one performance at a time
What does 12-year-old Liam Dawson of Bay Roberts have in common with Pablo Picasso, Whoopie Goldberg, Thomas Edison, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill and Cher?
They all suffer(ed) from developmental reading disorder, more familiarly known as dyslexia.
“I’m in great company,” Dawson says with a smile.
The reading disability occurs when the brain improperly recognizes and processes certain symbols.
“My dyslexia doesn’t hold me back from doing auditions or public speaking,” he states.
All his world’s a stage
Dawson thrives on theatre. Last summer and again this summer, he appeared in productions with the New World Theatre Project on the Indeavour Stage in Cupids. Last year he played first fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and this year, Balthazar in The Merchant of Venice. The current season ended last week.
The 10-member artistic company produced two Shakespeare plays, The Merchant of Venice and Henry IV Part 1.
Artistic director Brad Hodder of St. John’s
ABOUT LIAM ERIC DAWSON
• Age — 12 • Birthplace — Carbonear • Hometown — Bay Roberts • Family — parents are Cynthia and Patrick Dawson. One sister, Angela • Pets — two dogs, Lucky and Oreo • Select theatre involvement — White Rabbit in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Junior; actor, Steps Through Time, a historical walking play in Brigus; Fritz and The Rat King in The Nutcracker; Young Boy in A Tribute to Broadway
• Hobbies/ interests — collecting swords and knives, theatre, cooking says the second season “was a great artistic success,” providing the opportunity “to explore classical work in a unique space.”
“I thought it would be good to have the experience with some professionals,” Dawson says.
Performing with well-known actors Andy Jones and Greg Malone was a special treat for the young man.
“It was a real honour to be around ( Jones) and learn from him,” Dawson notes.
Prepared for stage
Being on stage is no great burden for Dawson. His previous theatrical experience ideally prepared him.
“I feel like I’m doing a job,” he says. “After the opening show, you don’t get nervous.”
He also says he enjoys “playing off the crowd.”
Hodder refers to Dawson as “an old soul who just fits in perfectly. Watching him develop as an artist is personally very, very gratifying.”
Theatre makes big demands on actors, including 12-hour practices that run six daysa-week for three weeks at a time.
Dawson admits the first day he reads a play is the hardest. Dyslexia affects different people in different ways.
Some words — foresporrer, one who rides before, for example — confuse him. So he deals with his disorder by requesting the script beforehand. He also finds that reading cookbooks helps him understand words and measurements. And, he’s a good listener.
Dawson’s mother, Cynthia, says she and her husband, Patrick, “never put a negative spin on what (Liam) has because everybody has something. It could be a medical condition ... so you have to learn to fit it into your life, which he has done.”
Dawson is unapologetic about his future
Liam Dawson of Bay Roberts with his two pets, Lucky and Oreo.
In the short-term, he’s auditioned for The Grand Seduction, a film that actor and funnyman Robin Williams may be filming in the province.
He’s auditioning for the voice of a sheepdog in a TV show called Mickey.
His long-term ambition is no less ambitious: “performing on Broadway in New York City.” In case anyone doubts his aspiration, he adds, “I’m serious. I want to play The Phantom (of the Opera) on Broadway in New York City.”
Meanwhile, he encourages other would-be actors be to “ have more confidence.”