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News | March 10, 2017

A JAG Corps Lieutenant Takes the Stage

By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs

Lt. Ben Leatham – a legal assistance attorney in his first tour at Region Legal Service Office Japan – played a leading role in a recent production of Speaking in Tongues at the Pocket Theatre in Tokyo. The play was produced by Tokyo International Players (TIP), the oldest and largest English-language theater production company in Japan. The play, authored by Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, ran for five shows in late February and drew more than 300 attendees, including Leatham’s colleagues in the JAG community. “I went and saw TIP's production of Macbeth in October 2016 and noticed an audition notice on the back of the program,” said Leatham. “I thought: ‘Let's see what the rehearsal schedule is like; I don't have any leave or TADs planned between now and the show date.’ So, I auditioned and fortunately I was cast.” Leatham played the role of Pete, who he described as an angry, middle-aged man in a failing marriage. His castmates included another Navy lieutenant, as well as the wife of a Air Force service member. The production was a bit unconventional; the first few scenes took place simultaneously on stage with overlapping and synchronized dialogue and movements. Leatham said he enjoyed the challenge, and the opportunity to inhabit a character very different from himself.

Leatham has been acting since age 10. It’s a talent he shares with other members of his family; his father, stepmother and brother act as a hobby, too. He is primarily a Shakespearean actor, and he previously played King Henry in Henry V, Lysander in Much Ado About Nothing and Banquo in Macbeth. “[Acting] is a great creative outlet that I feel comfortable with,” Leatham explains. “I feel that engaging with the arts helps me learn more about myself and other people. And it permits me to explore emotions I wouldn't normally experience.” “There is a great camaraderie with your fellow actors that is wonderful to be a part of,” he added. “It reminds me of life in the military due to the greater level of trust and connection you have to the people around you … I enjoy getting exposed to their points of view over the course of a rehearsal process.” Now that the play is over, Leatham is enjoying more free time, and he looks forward to traveling, cooking and other hobbies. Acting, he says, is not his career ambition, but it is a nice treat when he has time for it. Bravo Zulu, Lt. Leatham!
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