By Mary Em Burns
Charles Brin at the mic at KFAI.
Twin Cities actor, versatile voiceover artist and longtime SAG-AFTRA Twin Cities Local Board member Charles Brin died Jan. 29, just days short of his 93rd birthday. Brin grew up near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, where his mother, Fanny, was a noted suffragist and peace activist. After leaving the University of Minnesota where he studied psychology, he headed to New York for graduate studies at the New School for Social Research. There, he began exploring the practice of psychodrama, working with Viennese psychiatrist Dr. Jacob L. Moreno, who Brin has described as “the inventor of role play and psychodrama.” In addition to attending school and receiving training and certification in psychodrama, he also appeared in several plays and received great praise for his performance in The Dybbuk in 1954. His performance in that show led him to be cast in the original Broadway production of Inherit the Wind, where he appeared for two years alongside Tony Randall and Paul Muni, the character actor he most admired.
Charles Brin in The Dybbuk in 1954.
After moving back to Minneapolis in 1960 to care for his ailing mother, Brin delved further into psychodrama. As he was certified to teach/train people in this practice, he went on to co-found and direct the Minnesota Institute of Psychodrama. In addition to his psychodrama work and a multitude of union acting and voiceover projects that kept him constantly working, Brin also found time for other creative pursuits, including painting. He was also a violinist and performed for many years with the Northeast Minneapolis Orchestra.
Charles Brin at the age of 90 in The Jingle Dress.
Another pet project that kept Brin very busy (and very happy!) over the last few decades was his role as one of the founders of and volunteer program hosts at KFAI Fresh Air community radio in Minneapolis. He co-hosted the weekly Spoken Word program on KFAI from 1978 until January of this year, in collaboration with Beryl Greenberg, his co-host, producer and life partner of 46 years. They shared a variety of stories, poems, monologues and other oral treasures with KFAI listeners every week.
A member of multiple performing unions, Brin joined the Twin Cities AFTRA board in the 1970s and continued to serve on the Local Board at the time of his passing. Through the years, he continued acting whenever opportunities arose, landing roles in locally shot films, including Grumpy Old Men and the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man, and most recently (at the age of 90!), performing a principal role in the 2014 film The Jingle Dress. Brin’s ever-ready energy, creative passion and resonating voice will live on in the many ways he touched the wider community and all of us who shared some time with this tough-yet-gentle man living his life out loud.