Theater arts teacher Christopher Kauffman ’92 appeared in episode 6 – the final episode – of HBO’s latest limited series by David Simon (The Wire), “We Own This City”, which premiered on May 30. In the episode, Kauffman played Steven Levin, a defense attorney for accused Baltimore police officer Wayne Jenkins, played by Jon Bernthal.
The show is inspired by the non-fiction book of the same name by Justin Fenton, a Baltimore Sun reporter who chronicled the corruption of members of the Gun Trace Task Force, part of the Baltimore Police Department. The role played by Kauffman is based on a real person. In the book, Levin is seen at trial trying to portray Jenkins as a remorseful figure, someone who will make amends for his past mistakes.
“The show really fleshes out all the corruption that Jenkins was a part of – someone overwhelmed by greed and a lust for power – and Levin has little room to try to show Jenkins’ remorse in the courtroom. The case against Jenkins was so complete and rock solid,” Kauffman said. “I saw my role as someone who was fed up with a stubborn client – Jenkins refused to cooperate and didn’t see his chance to reduce his sentence by giving the names of others involved.”
As a fan of Simon’s work, being part of his storytelling experience while working alongside powerful actors like Bernthal has been an honor for Kauffman – an experience he plans to share with his Gettysburg College students in class. and on stage.
“In addition to allowing me to grow artistically and develop my career, pursuing roles in television or film helps me keep up with things in the industry,” Kauffman said. “With this knowledge, I can advise students interested in working professionally as actors, as well as film and media studies in my acting and directing courses, about the opportunities that exist.”
Always on the lookout for new creative projects, in addition to appearing on “We Own This City” in late May, Kauffman also wrapped filming on set in Baltimore for another limited series, this one for Apple TV, starring star Natalie Portman. This series, which is currently under wraps, was directed by Alma Har’el, an Israeli filmmaker, whom Kauffman described as experimental and creative in her approach.
“I hope my students will see that being an actor and a creator can be a joyful and lifelong pursuit, even when you have other passions, like teaching and directing at Gettysburg,” Kauffman said. “The important thing is to follow your interests and do what you can when you can – to maintain a strong work ethic that is grounded in knowledge in a field and resilience in practice – to stay positive, proactive and flexible .”
Learn more about our passionate teachers at Gettysburg College and how they inspire our students to wholeheartedly pursue their own interests.
By Molly Foster
Photo courtesy of Professor Christopher Kauffman ’92