Ask not what Chad Beckim has done for the theater – this Monmouth native has done it all. An intensely driven 32-year-old actor turned playwright, Beckim has made countless sacrifices in the name of his career, including the ultimate in advanced dues paying: sleeping in Manhattan’s Port Authority bus terminal.

Thankfully, Beckim’s bench nesting days may be over as his theater company, Partial Comfort Productions, recently became the rage among New York’s smart set and his play, “…A Matter of Choice,” elicited praise from no less than The New York Times, which followed up with a laudatory profile of the ambitious impresario. (Ada Calhoun’s profile, “The Little Company That Could,” appeared April 21. A review of “… A Matter of Choice” ran March 28, in the New York Times.)

It’s the kind of hard-earned showbusiness success that Beckim has coveted since his youth, which was largely spent on the boards at The Theatre at Monmouth. “I grew up right next door to Cumston Hall and they had me featured in everything,” Beckim said. “I had the privilege of developing my craft on one of Maine’s finest stages. … Looking back, it’s amazing how much that space and the people involved with it shaped my career.”

Eager to absorb Maine’s theatrical atmosphere, Beckim participated in school plays, volunteered as a Cumston Hall usher and landed a coveted lead in the satiric classic “The Mouse That Roared.” Endless hours of work resulted in his first fortuitous break when he snagged the top prize in a Portland talent contest during his senior year of college. Beckim’s dramatic skills caught the eye of the late Davina Wells, an agent instrumental in launching the career of Buckfield’s Patrick Dempsey (who is acting inthe hit TV show “Grey’s Anatomy”).

As Beckim recalls, “Wells took a huge interest in me, called me and basically signed me on the spot and got me on ‘All My Children” within a month and a half.”

Beckim’s recurring role on ABC’s popular daytime drama may have been devoid of dialogue but it offered widespread exposure and brought the enterprising hopeful to the city that never sleeps in 1997.

Dividing his time between Maine and Manhattan, a vagabond Beckim camped out in Port Authority before his fellow soap stars invited him to crash on their couches. “It didn’t matter how tired I was,” Beckim said. “It was such a rush to be in the city. When I finally made some friends there, I remember walking down the street with them and it was just like we owned the world. We were just so excited to be in New York City.”

Beckim’s elation continued when he spotted an ad in the auditioning actor’s Bible, “Backstage,” announcing the formation of a fledgling theater company. The industrious overachiever behind that significant ad was Molly Pearson, a young actress from Connecticut who was tired of waiting for opportunity to knock. “I placed the ad in “Backstage” because I knew of no other way to find people to start a company with,” Pearson said. “I did not attend a conservatory program nor had I been involved with any of the theaters downtown. I wanted to create some opportunities for myself.”

“I can offer you everything I have,” Beckim vowed in his introductory letter to Pearson. In 2001, two weeks before Sept. 11, the two met in SoHo and over coffee, their “journeyman company,” Partial Comfort Productions, was born.

“Chad and I both agreed early on to settle in and view this company as a long-distance marathon,” Pearson said. Earlier this year, the ensemble presented Beckim’s semi-autobiographical drama, “…A Matter of Choice,” in a three-week engagement helmed by acclaimed director John Gould Rubin. Encouraging reviews came as no surprise to playwright Robert O’Hara (“Insurrection: Holding History”) who has professionally mentored Beckim in recent years. “His work is like a punch in the gut,” O’Hara said of Beckim’s initial efforts. “Chad is a truly expressive artist who uses his firm grasp of urban and theatrical landscapes to lasso an audience into his darkly taut yet brilliantly scintillating imagination.”

Next up on Beckim’s busy agenda is a production of “Bigger Man,” by Partial Comfort collaborator Sam Marks. Beckim will serve as producer on what he describes as “a very dark comedy,” which begins previews in late June.

“Funny, I’ve been in the city for over eight years and I still think of Maine as home,” Beckim said. “Having spent a week in Maine recently, I realized how easy it is to write up there. The silence and the stillness are very conducive to writing. … That kind of focus is hard to come by these days. Only in Maine, man. Only in Maine.”

Mark Griffin writes a monthly column for Genre and Film Score magazine.


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