There aren't many 11-year-olds who can say that a playwright wrote a part specifically for them.
But Aidan Armstrong can.
Preston Lane, a playwright and Triad Stage artistic director, originally didn't have a child's role in his latest production, "Actions and Objectives," but he created one specifically for Armstrong.
When Armstrong, a fifth-grader at Blessed Sacrament School in Burlington, isn't doing homework or spending time with his family and friends, he's rehearsing the role of Alex Lancaster in the world premiere play. "Actions and Objectives" opens at 8 p.m. Friday at the Pyrle Theater, Triad Stage, 232 S. Elm St., Greensboro.
The show mirrors modern day and explores the issues in the contemporary South. The action is set in Hawboro, a fictional town that provided the setting for Lane's play, "Common Enemy" as well.
"It's a play within a play. It's really interesting in that way," Armstrong said.
Following a preview this weekend, Armstrong said the audience commented that "it really makes you think."
This is Armstrong's fifth performance with Triad Stage. At 9, he played John Henry in Carson McCullers' "The Member of the Wedding" and Sonny in "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof." He also starred in Triad Stage's performances of "A Christmas Carol" in Winston-Salem in which he portrayed a boy in the street and beggar child, respectively.
The "Christmas Carol" shows required Armstrong to learn a Cockney accent and sing authentic 1860s songs.
Being a professional actor at such a young age comes with its challenges, too.
"During tech week, you're talking 10-hour days," said Andy Armstrong, Aidan's father. "It's pretty crazy, but he loves it."
As a fourth-grader, Aidan Armstrong created a dream board that indicated his goals.
"He wants to attend the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, followed by Juilliard and earn his Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University, like Preston Lane did," Andy Armstrong said. "He's got it all mapped out and we want to do what we can to support him."
Aidan is the youngest son of Andy and Heather Armstrong and he has an older brother, David, who is 12 years old. David was the first one actually interested in acting. Andy would read to the boys from the Percy Jackson series and Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" and "they always wanted to act out the scenes." The boys also participated in numerous summer theater camps.
Of the whole experience of being a professional actor and having a part written especially for him, Aidan said, "I think it's really awesome."
n Note: The show contains adult language and themes.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. April 11-13; 8 p.m. April 14-15; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 16; 7:30 p.m. April 18-20; 8 p.m. April 21-22 and 2 p.m. April 23. Tickets range from $10 to $43 and can be purchased at www.triadstage.org or by calling 336-272-0160.