‘Dear Actor’ Letters

Janice L. Blixt, the producing artistic director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, discusses the very tiny percentage of clumsy and unfortunate inquiry letters she’s received, and the playfully helpful responses we wish we could send back. Blixt talks about how casting directors are genuinely rooting for every actor to be just what they’re looking for; the importance of self-direction; a Barbra Streisand example for young actors; how actors should be given opportunities to sit on the other side of the table; advice for young actors, or indeed, anyone who’s ever inquired about a job opportunity; how not to fly any unnecessary red flags; and the importance of not only learning about who you’re approaching, but not offering unsolicited advice to the person who has the power to hire you. (Length 22:56)

Episode 631. Joe Dempsey’s Mechanical

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.

Episode 613. ‘Complete Works’ Returns!

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)  returns for its first US tour in almost ten years! Two of our actors prepared for the tour by performing un-reduced Shakespeare this summer: Michael Faulkner (above, right) performed in Othello and the Two Noble Kinsmen for Kingsmen Shakespeare Company in Thousand Oaks, CA, while Jeff Marlow (above, left) played three roles in the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production of Henry IV, which featured a young up-and-comer named Tom Hanks as Falstaff. Michael and Jeff discuss the importance of calf exercises, the strengths and limitations of LPMs (Laughs Per Minute) as an appropriate barometer, actor shorthand, honoring laughs, opening doors for yourself, unlikely expectations, the magic of theatrical alchemy, and the wonderful relationship between performing actual full-length Shakespeare — and then reducing it. (Length 18:32)