Titan of the Week: Professor Randall Colborn

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Professor Colborn talks about his journey as an actor and how it surprisingly brought him back to his alma mater; IU South Bend. Preface photo/Leslie Lestinsky

Staff Writer

Artifacts of years of experiences, priceless moments and relationships are what you first notice, walking into Randall Colborn’s office. The room is filled with books stacked to the ceiling, photos, mementos from various productions and several curious props. He recently sat down to share his journey at IU South Bend, his alma mater.

“I had no idea what I was going to do when I came to IUSB. I really did want to be an actor. But it is nowhere in my background. I didn’t have actor role models. We have our ambitions, but then you hear people say, ‘Oh, that’s really hard. That’s really challenging. Are you sure you want to do that?’ You hear that in particular being an artist. I never worried about all that very much, and it didn’t stop me when I first came here. When I started acting, I realized it’s a lot of work. You are always part of the equation,” he said.

He went on to say, “I was lucky that I found something I really wanted to do. I was here as a student for two years before I really got serious about acting.”

Colborn talked about moving on to graduate school.

“I had some interesting offers from various places for graduate studies but I ended up at Purdue. The Chicago connection had always been part of my ambition. What was going on in Chicago in the theatre really interested me and Purdue had good connections there. I thought Purdue would demand a lot from me and they did and probably needed to. I was ready for it.”

Colborn spoke of the struggles of being an actor.

“I wish it was easier, but easy has never been very interesting to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like to goof around and have fun but easy as it relates to what I do is rarely part of the equation. I don’t go out of my way to make trouble or problems, but there’s plenty already there because you, the actor, are so much a part of it. It can either get in the way or you can figure out how to get it out of the way. A painter can paint a canvas, and while they themselves are in that work, they can walk away and it’s still on the wall.”

As time went on, and two degrees later, he found himself back at IUSB.

“I didn’t anticipate coming back here, not because I didn’t like it. I was going off into the world and it just wasn’t part of any plan. When I came back, I was only supposed to be here a year and that was 24 years ago. I had plans to move to New York or L.A.. At that time, I was such a wild man, such the artist. However, I found I really liked working with students and that is still very true.”

Colborn went on to explain about how his plans to move on from this town changed.

“One of the reasons I came back was the university asked me to be in ‘Hamlet’ with the students for the 25th anniversary of the university production. I figured they were asking me to play Claudius. I was excited, thought it would be really great to go back to where I went to school and work with students. Then they said, ‘No, we want you to play Hamlet. Hamlet is supposed to be a college aged man. Everyone here involved was going to be between 18-23 years old on average. I was only 31, but I was older and as bald as I am now, I was horrified. I wore a hairpiece for the role.”

He went on to share about his experience acting.

“I’m very improvisational as an actor on stage. Even if my costume were to totally fall off, I could handle it. As a student, I was in a challenging play here at IUSB called ‘Mother Courage and Her Children.’ At the time, I knew nothing. I was cast in a really great part and didn’t know my foot from my ear. I had a few moments of malapropism. I couldn’t live it down at the time. There were times I wound up on stage in my underwear for sake of not being late on my entrance. Those were some embarrassing moments. Acting is embarrassing because if I’m really experiencing what is going on in the play – which is my job by the way, just like in life – there are going to be embarrassing moments.”

“I’m a wild man relative to the work that I do. I’m very vested in it and passionate about it. I’m very demanding of myself and others,” he said in conclusion.

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