Chicago actor Joe Dempsey plays William Shakespeare’s most autobiographical character, Peter Quince, in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Joe talks about playing this prototypical actor-manager, the rehearsal process for this gloriously funny production, the importance of listening to director Joe Dowling, the joy of rehearsal invention, the freedom of actor ownership, the balance of hustling for auditions, the delight of working with T.R. Knight (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) as Bottom, the incorporation of many Shakespearean deaths, memories of working with the late great John Mahoney (Frasier), and the fundamental difference between being interpretive and creative artists. (Length 18:33) Peter Quince (Joe Dempsey, with bullhorn) directs Francis Flute (Alec Silver), and helps Nick Bottom (T.R. Knight), assisted by Tom Snout (Jonathan Butler-Duplessis) and watched by Snug the Joiner (William Dick) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Joe Dowling, December 6, 2018 – February 3, 2019. Photos by Liz Lauren.
Christopher Luscombe, who’s directed in London’s West End, at Shakespeare’s Globe, and for the ‘other RSC’ (the Royal Shakespeare Company), now directs Nell Gwynn, a charming new comedy with music about the famous (or infamous) 17th Century actress now having its world premiere at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Also an alumnus of the Cambridge Footlights, Chris discusses Nell the play, Nell the actress, and Nell the production. Featuring a wonderful tribute to Chicago actors, the value of being authentically English, the absolute treat of continuing to work on a play over several years, the advantage of embracing contradictions, the great thing about not being afraid of comedy, and the importance of starting from scratch every time. (Length 18:21)
Ron West, whose adaptation of The Comedy of Errors won a Jeff Award for best adaptation when Chicago Shakespeare Theatre produced it in 2008, is back at Chicago Shakes with a new framing device for Barbara Gaines’ all female production of The Taming of the Shrew. Ron discusses what goes into his re-imaginings of Shakespeare, goes off into improvisational tangents with Dee Ryan, and pulls CST Creative Producer Rick Boynton into the festivities. Featuring Shakespearean digressions, an upcoming musical about King Lear, excellent supposition about why Shakespeare’s female characters are so fantastic, and the perfect metaphor for what writing around Shakespeare is really like. (Length 18:57)