Stephen Lang has been an actor so long he doesn’t remember how he got into it.
He always felt a calling to be one, and no one ever tried to talk him out of it, he said.
This calling is bringing him to Ball State Nov. 16 to perform his one-man show, “Beyond Glory” in John R. Emens Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.
Lang’s show is based on the book “Beyond Glory” by Larry Smith. It highlights the stories of eight military veterans who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.
“When I read the book, it just kind of came of its own accord,” Lang said. “Right away, I felt there was a tremendous amount of drama in it. I didn’t plan it; it just kind of hit me immediately.”
While transforming the book into a play, Lang felt the voices of the men come through him. He began editing and shaping the content into intervals of about 10 minutes. Lang said he hopes this play illuminates the deepest and most important qualities of man.
“Stories are every bit as vital to human existence as bread, salt, fire and water,” Lang said. “There’s something in us that needs them. These particular stories, to me, are important stories.”
“Beyond Glory” is a different experience for Lang. He is used to acting alongside other performers, either in live theater or on a movie stage. Previous roles include Tony-nominated Lou in “The Speed of Darkness,” Brigadier General Dean Hopgood in “The Men Who Stare at Goats” and Colonel Miles Quaritch in “Avatar.”
Sometimes Lang gets lonely and misses performing with other actors. The worst part about a one-man show is “the cast parties are extremely boring,” he quipped.
Actors are aware of the audience in a regular play, but the audience is not part of the play. In a one-man show, the audience is very much part of the experience. There are times when Lang speaks directly to his audience while performing.
“It’s less passive of a relationship,” Lang said. “It’s very challenging.”
This year marks year three of Lang’s tour with “Beyond Glory.” He has performed the play all over the world.
His favorite audience, he said, is members of the military. He has performed on nuclear carriers on naval bases, at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, Guantanamo Bay and various other military bases.
“It’s always very meaningful when I do it for the troops,” Lang said.
Lang’s 80-minute show is meant to be a journey for audiences. When it goes well, he feels like he’s taking people on a magical tour, he said.
He said he hopes to continue taking audiences on the magical tour of “Beyond Glory” for as long as they stay entertained and invested.