31 Aug Newsletter — August 2015
Artistic Director’s Corner
We hope you have made your plans to attend our Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing. It’s going to be a doozy. We have put together another amazing cast and they are hard at work with Mr. Tracy to make this a truly unique production of Much Ado. Please remember that we are doing this show in the park primarily to get the word out about Live Oak Theatre, so hopefully you are hard at work getting the word out to your people. I know it is hard to get people to go to the theatre, but this is a free show in a beautiful park, directed by one of the hottest directors in the Bay Area. When Jon and I first sat down to discuss this production we talked about how many people in the audience tend to write off the story because of the way Hero is treated. Without giving anything away, for those of you who have not seen it, we agreed that one way to help with this aspect, or challenge as it were, is to focus on the fact that these folks are living in a military community where code and honor are paramount. We also decided to make Leonato the mother of Hero (changing the name to Leonata) so that when she rails against Hero for her alleged indiscretion it is a female supporting the outrage of the community and not yet another male chastising Hero. In fact 9 of the 13 cast members are women and the play takes place on a set that represents a rehabilitation center that is run by women, diminishing the patriarchal aspects even more. Hopefully. We are four weeks into rehearsal and this seems to be working well. It’s really exciting to take on such a difficult task with Shakespeare in the Park, but focusing on the fact that the soldiers in Shakespeare’s story are returning from war and may have to go back infuses a certain energy into the play that we feel will make the comedy pop even more. It is certainly very topical since our community has been living with war for quite a while now and it has become a major part of our lives. Another hot topic in our communities is the role of gender and this is also a very interesting aspect to our production of Much Ado. With many of the actors being women, obviously some women will be cast in male roles. I already mentioned turning one of the male characters into female and we also have women playing male characters as women who identify more with being a man. And this is proving to be very interesting and very cool. So, there is lots going on in this production and you will not want to miss it. I know I am enjoying watching the rehearsals and there is still two weeks of rehearsal left to go. I hope you will join us.
And bring friends
Free Shakespeare in the Park – Much Ado well under way
These amazing artists are doing great work. Mr. Tracy is applying his unique vision to this production of one of Shakespeare’s best comedies and you will want to be sure to join us as we pick up the mantle of producing Shakespeare in John Hinkel Park. The Bard has made a few appearances in the Park since Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, now California Shakespeare Theatre, moved out in 1991 after a twenty year run. No stranger to the nomadic theatrical life, TheatreFIRST’s production will move in with another intimately intense experience with Much Ado.
Subscribers will have seats reserved for them if they have provided us with their date of attendance but the general public may want to arrive early to claim their spot. However with the terraced seating area at John Hinkel Park there are no bad seats and you are welcome to bring chairs if you like as well as a picnic. TheatreFIRST will be serving wine and perhaps a few of our sweet items from the theatre’s café, but just be aware that we will not be providing the elaborate concessions that some companies have done in the past.
An Interview With Actor, Tim Redmond
You no doubt remember Tim Redmond from our production of Glengarry Glen Ross and he now takes on one of the most beloved roles in the cannon, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. We sat down with Tim recently and had few questions for him.
How did you get started in acting?
At the end of college (I went to UC Davis) I was burned out from my pre-med courses and on a whim decided to take an acting class. It was intriguing enough to make me try out for a summer show, where I got a tiny part in Our Country’s Good, directed by the amazing Carla Spindt. This led to a main stage role in the fall, which hooked me. I ended up dropping all my other classes, began taking theatre courses and (with a little hiatus after my time in Los Angeles) have been an actor ever since.
What are some of the things you like most about being an actor?
I love every part of being an actor. Diving into a play, rehearsing it, mining it for all its possibilities, playing with my fellow actors, working on the minutiae of a scene, the hard work and late nights, always trying to make it better… It’s the best.
What are some of the strangest things about being an actor?
I love acting and it is who I am so I don’t personally find any of it strange, but I do find myself walking down the street or in a café and talking to myself (rehearsing my lines), and then notice people might be looking at me. Luckily, I live in Berkeley so it might not seem so odd.
What is the strangest moment you have had on stage?
I was in a play once where I had a scene where I was arguing with an actor on stage. In the middle of the scene, a drunk guy in the audience got up, threw a $10 bill at me, and said “There! That’s what you want, right?!” before he stormed out of the theatre. (I’m still not quite sure what he meant by that!)
What is your most memorable moment on stage?
My first big part in college was in an adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, directed by the fantastic John Burgess. At the end of the show, I have a big monologue, which I delivered downstage to the audience, then I rushed up to my stage family where the play ends in a blackout. It was at that moment that I felt the culmination of all our work and the enormous thrill of what we had created as an ensemble. I was hooked.
Who are some of the people who inspired you to become an actor, or that have influenced your career?
There are so many! I am constantly inspired by people I work with, but along the way – at UC Davis, some of the people who believed in me long before they should have – directors Carla Spindt, Kent Nicholson (I still hear his directing notes), Ari Kreith and John Burgess. In Los Angeles, actors Patrick Kerr and Stephen Rowe were highly influential. Greg Wallace, Louis Parnell, and Leslie Martinson in the Bay Area were early influences in one way or another….and so many more….
Who are some of your favorite actors?
Billy Crudup and Sam Rockwell were early inspirations and are so good – I really love the work they do. All those RSC people are fantastic – Antony Sher, Derek Jacobi, Harriet Walter, Michael Gambon, the late Roger Rees, etc. I’m constantly trying to learn and steal things from them.
What are you enjoying most about this summer’s production of Much Ado?
Working with Jon Tracy again is such a treat – he creates such a deep, creative, and open space to work from and that is an absolute dream for an actor. Rehearsals have been a blast, with everyone so willing to play – our Beatrice (Sarah Mitchell) has been bringing it and I am excited to see where all our work leads us.