David Hoffman – 2021 Feature Finalist

The Understudy

After twenty years as a journeyman actor, Chester Knapp finally takes the stage as a leading man on the same night his nemesis has chosen to kill Abraham Lincoln.

Chester Knapp has played every role in the English-speaking theater, except the leads. For twenty years he’s waited and prepared for his big shot at being a leading man and it finally comes, on the worst possible night.  

I based some of Chester on me as I’ve been an actor for twenty-plus years (I currently play Doug in the “Limu Emu & Doug” commercials for Liberty Mutual). Actors are always hoping for a shot to get to the next level, and I thought about an actor finally getting his big shot on the most infamous night in the history of theater.  I started researching John Wilkes Booth the actor, not the assassin, and I became hooked on that world and the story of “The Understudy” came together for me. Through most of this script, Booth isn’t the assassin we’ve all learned about. He’s a famous actor who can make or break Chester’s career.

I’ve always loved writing. I wrote short stories when I was a kid and a couple of plays in college but then I went hardcore when I was a member of the Groundlings. For nearly a decade I wrote and performed hundreds of sketches. I found it so exciting to write something and then see it on stage in front of a full house within days. Instant gratification! When I left the Groundlings I made an animated series called “Army Brat,” based on my youth. I also made an award-winning web series called “George Washington is Here to Help,” and I wrote a couple episodes of “Mike Tyson Mysteries” on Adult Swim. Besides “The Understudy” I’ve written five features and two series that have not yet been seen by “industry eyes.”

Contact David Hoffman: contactdavidhoffman@gmail.com

Website: http://thedavidhoffman.com/