A retiree in Silver Spring, MD, is convinced Daniel Day-Lewis will win this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor. And he may be one of the most qualified people to say so, given that he has acted in nearly 50 plays, written scores of plays and is now working on another and – perhaps most remarkably – attended 749 performances of plays in theaters in the greater Washington, D.C., area and in locales worldwide, from New York, England, Canada, California, Massachusetts, Florida, and other sites wherever a stage is found and creativity vibrantly flourishes on it.
“My experience with the movie “Lincoln” was extremely impressive,” said Isadore (Sam) Seeman, a resident of Riderwood retirement community.”I thought the script was masterful, with its concentrated focus on one short period In Lincoln’s life and the transition from slavery. The acting by Daniel Day-Lewis was superb, and the direction was effective.”
Seeman, who is a past President of the Jewish Dramatic Guild in Baltimore, is admired by his neighbors at Riderwood for his acting prowess and, moreover, for his insight into the theater. He is the quintessential actor who honed his craft on scripts written by the famous playwrights and by those who never were given the recognition they deserve.
All the world is truly a stage to Seeman, who is known to his friends as “Sam,” a name that derives from a role he played as Sam the Barber in a play about a marathon dance at the Vagabond Theater in Baltimore. “Fellow actors and stage hands began to call me by the stage name, and it stuck,” said Seeman, who wrote weekly scripts and played the role of The Family Doctor in a TV series sponsored by the Baltimore City Health Department in 1948 when television was in its infancy and where he served as Director of Health Information.
Seeman’s first acting performances were in his junior year in high school. In his senior year he played in every play produced at Baltimore City College, his high school, including the senior play in which he played the villain. The hero was played by a fellow classmate, Garrison Morfit, who later changed his name to Gary Moore, and who became a well-known television personality.
After graduating from high school Seeman could not let go of his determination to be a part of the theater world. He discovered an amateur community theater at The Vagabond Players, in downtown Baltimore. “I started attending there, securing roles in Junior Vagabond productions, and helping the stage crew with scenery, lighting, stage manager, and all things else,” said Seeman. “I spent two years at the Vagabond playhouse, virtually day and night, playing roles now with the senior Vagabond Players and doing stage work. It was a truly enriching experience in my formative years, and I would not trade it for mounds of gold.”
He has kept a scrapbook of his performances and now counts 44 roles that he played. The latest was the performance in a one-man television play about the life of Beethoven which he wrote and performed for TV. He has acted in such plays as “The Tavern,” “The Marriage Proposal by Chekov,” “The Front Page,” “Paradise Lost” by Clifford Odets, and “The Importance of Being Earnest.” He is now conducting research for a script of a play he will soon write about the life of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The one role he still wants to perform is that of Macbeth. “I love Shakespeare, his beautiful language and his mastery of playwriting,” said Seeman, who lives at Riderwood with his partner Marilyn Willner. “His character is complex and introspective, experiencing deep emotional trauma.” He has attended 84 performances of plays by Shakespeare, including 29 of the 37 plays by the Bard. He has seen five performances of “Macbeth,” five of “Hamlet,” five of “Much Ado about Nothing,” four of “Twelfth Night” and of “Richard II”, and three of “The Tempest.”
Seeman is not about to stop acting because he simply cannot. “The theater is in my blood (or my DNA),” he said. I” have had this passion since I was a teenager.
“Basically, I am a rather shy person, but performing on the stage opens me up and frees me to be another character,” he said. “The process of creating, a character or a play, is very emotionally rewarding.”