Friday, December 5, 2008

December Featured Actor - Paul Hester

Paul Hester joined the Shakespeare Tavern as a member of the 2003-2004 Apprentice Company. He was called back from a General Audition and he says that he really liked the feel of the Tavern the first time he ever saw a show here. After his apprenticeship, his big break at the Tavern came when he was cast in The Mandrake, which was also his favorite classical comedy here.

Paul has always wanted to entertain, though he was never quite sure in what way until he moved to Knoxville at the age of 14. He was visiting the high school that he would be attending and sat in on a drama class. The teacher had him join in with some improv and he had “the best time he had had in school ever.” From there, Paul became active in theatre and eventually attended Wright State University, earning a BFA in Acting.

Paul’s favorite non-Shakespeare role so far was Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Hi favorite Shakespeare role was Cassius in Julius Caesar. He says he really enjoyed playing the villain.

Paul hopes one day to play Treplyov in Chekov’s The Seagull. He says that he is really intrigued by the relationships in the play. It is a very tragic role and Paul would like to “take that ride”.

Paul would love to (but never will) play Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus. He would also like to play Henry V or Iago in Othello.

When asked about his favorite Shakespeare quote, Paul says that he has a monologue in mind of Hermione’s from The Winter’s Tale that he finds striking. He likes the monologue because in it Hermione “shows strength and resolve in the face of oppression and tyranny”.

In the future, Paul wants to be the most diverse actor he can be. He would like to work on some contemporary non-Shakespeare classical plays. He finds himself less drawn to film and television, but he says that he wouldn’t turn down a chance to be in a Joss Whedon show. Paul is moving to Minneapolis in the Spring and hopes to spend a month or so next year in New York City. He says that he “doesn’t want to do one thing his whole life.”

Something you didn’t know about Paul? He is very into turn tables and is a hard core scratch DJ in his spare time. He is into “real” hip hop and likes to go and home after shows and scratch to wind down.

You can see Paul as Bob Cratchett, Topper, and a narrator in A Christmas Carol during December. He says that he is greatly enjoying the role as it is “something new to chew on”.

Other featured actors appearing in A Christmas Carol include:

Matthew Felten
Andrew Houchins
Rivka Levin
Mary Ruth Ralston

-Redd Horrocks-Maier

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ask an Actor #1

Here at the Shakespeare Tavern blog, we have a form in the sidebar where you can submit a question to one of our actors. Please feel free to submit your questions and we'll have answers for you soon!

Actor : Matthew Felten


I recently went to see one of your plays with my school. I wanted to say that I loved your proformance. You were amazing and also my favorite actor. I wanted to know are you as funny in real life as you are in A Midsummers Night Dream? I also wanted to ask how did you manage to get the accent and the exact words of your character? Was it difficult?


First, thanks for coming to see the show and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Am I as funny in real life as in the show? I don't know. I tried to bring some of my own playfulness ad sense of humor to the role although my own sense of humor is a little darker than Puck's. 
Puck has more of a childlike innocence. That childishness is where the voice came from. When I was learning the lines my voice naturally wanted to go higher the younger I tried to make him. I eventually found a balance that felt natural for the character. I hope this answered your question. Cheers!

To answer another question that has been submitted, Paul Hester will be a Featured Actor very soon, just watch this space!

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Impressions from Working at The Shakespeare Tavern

By Kristin Hall
Education Development Coordinator

After a month as the new Education Development Coordinator for the Shakespeare Tavern, I can tell you that working for the Tavern is not your usual desk job.

For one thing, I’ve been a fan of this company for years, and I still can’t quite believe that I actually work here now. I find myself grinning as I walk into work because the first thing I pass on the way to my office is the Tavern stage.

That being said, I am still getting accustomed to the [fake] tortured cries of anguish that sound without warning through the wall beside my desk, as the cast of the Henry VI trilogy rehearses their battle scenes. Or yelling “Coming through!” every time I pass through the curtains that lead from backstage into the theater during rehearsal—a safety measure, used by the whole company to make sure that no one will come flying at me wielding a broadsword as they make a hasty exit from the stage.

The people I work with are talented and dedicated actors but also have a real talent for juggling different responsibilities. My coworker Tony Brown, for example, has recently been performing in or rehearsing for five different plays at once—Antony and Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the three Henry VI plays—on top of his job as the Programs Coordinator for our Education department. It’s still a bit strange to realize that as I waltz out the back door on my way to the car, having completed my 9:00-5:00 day, most of them are just beginning to arrive for a long night of theatre-making.

So far I have done a lot of watching, meeting, and learning. I’m excited to have had the chance to sit in on many rehearsals for the November Henry VI trilogy which, as a diehard fan of Shakespeare’s history plays, I have watched with no small amount of geeky bliss. There is always plenty to do at the Tavern and working here requires that you be, if not a jack of all trades, than at least a jack of lots of trades. One day I might be helping to teach high school students during one of our in-school ‘playshops,’ another day I might be working on a grant application to keep those playshops up and running, another day might find me spending a few hours sitting in on the Apprentice Company’s textual study class.

Working for the Shakespeare Tavern is much, much cooler than your usual desk job.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November Featured Actor - Mary Ruth Ralston

Mary Ruth Ralston has been with the Shakespeare Tavern since 2006 when she joined the 2006-2007 Apprentice Company (the Fruit Flies). She had just graduated with a BA in Theatre from Brenau University.

Mary Ruth starting acting in High School. She had always been raised to be very playful. Her parents were imaginative and encouraged her by playing lots of games throughout her childhood.

In college, Mary Ruth chose to portray Lillian Hellman in Cakewalk for her senior thesis project. This was her favorite role. She says that Lillian is a crazy, selfish and funny person and that playing someone so far out of her age range was very challenging. She also felt that because she was portraying a real person, she had a responsibility to get it right.

Mary Ruth is currently playing Joan of Arc in Henry VI Part 1, which is her dream role in Shakespeare. She says that she “enjoys the outlandish take on her that Shakespeare had, making her a whorish witch instead of a saint”. She finds the whole role very fun, from mocking Burgundy to all of the combat involved. She says that she believes that Joan thought that she was right and is impressed by the fact that a woman was able to command an army in medieval France. Mary Ruth obviously has a lot of respect for Joan of Arc as a historical figure as well as a character in a play.

In the future, she would love to play Viola in Twelfth Night.

Mary Ruth mostly enjoys performing in very classical work or very edgy contemporary plays.

In the future, she plans to stick with live performance. She finds having a live audience is more rewarding, especially as in film you only have to get it right once, but when you are on stage you have to get it right every time.

Mary Ruth also does stunt work, which she finds very fun.

This month, Mary Ruth is also playing Margery Jordan in Henry VI Part 2. In December she will be joining the cast of A Christmas Carol.

When asked to tell me something most people don’t know about her, she replied “I have a scar on my tongue. This is why making faces at yourself in the mirror while standing on a plastic stool is a bad idea, kids”.

Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3 will be playing throughout November. Other featured actors appearing in these plays are:

Nicholas Faircloth
Matthew Felten
Andrew Houchins
Bryan Lee
JC Long
Matthew Nitchie
Daniel Parvis
Jacob York

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Henry Counter

If you will look to your right, you will notice a new sidebar has appeared. This sidebar contains the totals for how many tickets are left for each Part of Henry VI, which runs from November 7th to November 30th.
Each Part of the play only has five performances, so be sure to grab your tickets now as they are going fast!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October Featured Actor - JC Long

JC Long has been at the Shakespeare Tavern since he was 17. While jointly enrolled in High School and Georgia Tech (as an Aerospace Engineering major), he auditioned for a part in Richard III. He won the role of Edward V, and performed in his first show nearly 12 years ago.
JC has been consistently performing on the Tavern stage since then, with a couple of brief pauses to go on international tours with Chattanooga Shakespeare.

JC started acting at the age of 6 with the American Theatre Company in Oklahoma. He then moved to Memphis, and after that to Atlanta. He also spent a year living in New York City.

JC is also an accomplished musician. He plays ten different instruments, his favorite being the violin. He is also a composer and much of his music can be heard in plays at the Tavern. He says that he loves music and acting equally and has strived to make a living from both over the past ten years. He finds that acting has afforded him a lot of musical opportunities.

So far his favorite role was as Hotspur and Poins in Henry IV Part 1.

JC’s dream roles are Toby in Sweeney Todd, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Edmund and Edgar in King Lear and Horatio or Laertes in Hamlet.

He auditions for film and television and would like to move back to New York City one day.

JC’s favorite quote is from The Winter’s Tale:

“I am a feather for each wind that blows”.

JC is currently performing in Antony and Cleopatra as Caesar. He says that “Caesar has a much straighter spine than the characters that I normally play.”

In November, you can also see him as Suffolk and other characters in Henry VI Part 1, 2 and 3.

Something you didn’t know about JC? He is a quarter Cherokee Indian and gets free medical and dental in Oklahoma.

Other featured actors performing in Antony and Cleopatra are:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September Featured Actor - Andrew Houchins

Since the first grade, Andrew Houchins has been involved in plays. His first role ever was as Uncle Albert (who loved to laugh) in Mary Poppins. Since then, he was involved in everything he could be during middle school and high school. He received a degree in Theatre with an emphasis on Performance from UNC Greensboro. His first role as a freshman in college was playing Hamlet, a role that he would love another chance to play.

Andrew moved to Atlanta in 2003. He worked at Agnes Scott and with the Neighborhood Playhouse before becoming an Apprentice in 2005, making him a Worker Bee. He says that he used the Apprenticeship as a foot in the door.

Andrew’s favorite role thus far was as The Bastard in King John, which is currently playing in our Repertory. He says that it was nice to cut loose, and that he enjoyed “speaking truth to power” as a non-legitimate member of royalty. He also enjoyed playing a more serious role as he tends to play the clowns.

In non-Shakespeare, Andrew enjoyed playing Huck Finn in Big River, his favorite musical. To him, Big River is the “story of what it means to be human and American”.

In the future, Andrew would like to play Hamlet again, as well as the title role in Richard III and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

His favorite quote comes from Hamlet:

There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
If it be now, 'tis not to come;
if it be not to come, it will be now;
if it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.

He would also like to direct more, as he considers directing last year in our education department with Kirk Harris Seaman to be a high point of recent years. He would also like to try his hand at film.

Andrew loves theatre buildings. He loves all of the little idiosyncrasies like how the temperature of a space feels different depending on the size of an audience. He would love to own a theatre building some day and also enjoys teaching.

Something you didn’t know about Andrew? He marched in Washington with Rosa Parks at an anniversary celebration. He was there with his father’s union.

Andrew is playing The Bastard in King John through the end of September, and will be playing several parts in Anthony and Cleopatra and Henry VI in October and November.

All of our previously featured actors are performing during September! Check out their interviews here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Antony and Cleopatra photo shoot

I have a lot of fun when I get to take press photos (Jeff Watkins usually takes them). Here's a glimpse into today's photo shoot for Antony and Cleopatra...

posted by Jeanette

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bards Eye View #10 - The Fall Repertory Company

Photo by Redd

The Fall Repertory Company of August and September here at the Tavern is a large one. There are so many people, actually, that you can't really even capture all of the Headshots in one image. It is nice to see so many different people around the Tavern, though it gets confusing when you aren't sure what show is playing that night.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bards Eye View #9 - Patience is a Virtue

Photo by Redd

We have two rehearsal spaces here besides the theatre. Rehearsing plays is a time consuming process, and for the cast of Henry VI, some of our actors have to sit comfortably for a long stretch of time while scenes they aren't in are being blocked. We have a lot of comic book readers and gamers, as well as a pretty great magician so the rehearsal hall table is often littered with comics, books on card magic, graphic novels, coffee mugs and scripts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

News Update : Tony Brown

Our Beloved Down Town Tony Brown.

On Sunday evening during a performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) one of our Senior Company members, Tony Brown, tripped and fell on stage during Act II. If you were there, thank you for your calm and patience while we handled the situation. We're sorry that we were unable to complete the show that evening.

Tony is doing well. He dislocated three fingers on his left hand and was a bit bumped and bruised, but nothing is broken. He is sore, but eager to get back on stage and sent an email saying "I'll be back!!!" to us yesterday. We will be performing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) as planned this coming Thursday.

If you did come to the performance on Sunday, we're probably working on contacting you, but if you haven't heard from us feel free to give the Box Office a call at 404-874-5299 x 0.

We hope you'll join us in sending Tony happy thoughts and well wishes for a speedy recovery!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Battles are Beginning....

In November the Shakespeare Tavern will be presenting Henry VI parts 1, 2 and 3. Because those are three separate plays, rehearsals for them have already begun. This is much earlier than usual for us, but because there is so much material and so much to coordinate we need a head start.

That means that the Battles have already begun. Fight choreography has already started and there are a lot of men running around the building with swords. There is also a lot of yelling and grunting.

These are already amazingly choreographed scenes, even though they are still in the preliminary stages. It's getting pretty exciting to watch.

Now, there are only going to be five performances for each part of Henry VI, and tickets have been on sale for a month.

We currently have 208 Main Floor tickets left for Part 1, 210 Main Floor tickets for Part 2 and 211 Main Floor tickets for Part 3. So if you are looking for a table of excitement on the Main Floor to watch all of these battles up close and personal, I would really recommend buying your tickets now!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bards Eye View #8 - Your Hair is Everywhere

Photo by Redd

Although all of the women at the Tavern have great hair, it's often not quite Elizabethan enough, so the ladies wear wigs. Putting on one of our wigs does take a little time. Often the hair has to be pin curled, then a stocking cap goes over the curls and the wig is pinned in place. 
Wigs have to be maintained regularly to keep those fantastic curls and braids looking perfect.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bards Eye View #7 - Serious Fire Safety

Photo by Redd

"We take fire safety very seriously here at the Shakespeare Tavern" is practically our motto here, and there are fire extinguishers all over the entire building. This vibrant splash of color is located in our upstairs Green Room. Our two Green Rooms (one upstairs and one downstairs) are the places where actors wait to go on stage between scenes. Filled with coffee makers, water coolers and couches, you will often find someone hanging out here after they have been beheaded or waiting to profess their undying love to a character they just met two minutes ago. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bards Eye View #6 - Magic Acting Pills

Photo by Redd

The secret fuel behind every performer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August Featured Actor - Tiffany Porter

Tiffany Porter joined the Shakespeare Tavern as an Apprentice in 2007. She has been involved in Theatre since her early teens after discovering that she had a fashion issue with the Marching Band in high school and deciding that drama was more her style.
Tiffany has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Professional Acting from East Carolina University.

After college, Tiffany performed in Raisin in the Sun and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and then came to Atlanta to audition for the Shakespeare Tavern. She auditioned on her birthday.

Tiffany finds, as many other actors do, that the most recent role she has performed is her favorite one. She greatly enjoyed playing Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and will be reprising the part on September 25th.

Her favorite non-Shakespeare performance was in Oesops Oh So Slightly Updated Fables. She enjoyed running around as a Butcher and making children laugh. Tiffany really enjoys teaching children.

In the future, Tiffany would like to play Kate in Taming of the Shrew.

Tiffany is currently playing Fabian in Twelfth Night through September. When discussing the character, she says “Fabian is the Yang to Mavolio’s Ying”. This is her first “breeches” role, where a woman plays a male character. She greatly enjoys working with Senior Company member Maurice Ralston, she feels that he is very giving as a scene partner.

In the future she wants to stay in Theatre. She considers herself a stage girl and says that her particular acting instrument is more suited to the classical style, which is why she enjoys Shakespeare.

Tiffany will be playing Charmian in Anthony and Cleopatra in October, a role that she considers “fiesty”. She will be playing Fabian in Twelfth Night through the end of September.

Something you didn’t know about Tiffany? She nearly didn’t take the apprentice at the Tavern because she has a phobia of bathrooms, and as an apprentice she had to clean them. She has a trade with a friend where her friend will come and clean her bathroom for her, and Tiffany will go and clean parts of her friend's kitchen.

In August and September The Shakespeare Tavern is performing Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, King John, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and Much Ado About Nothing.

All of our previous Featured Actors are performing!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bards Eye View #5 - The Life of Our Fight Director

Photo by Redd

The message board outside of Drew Reeve's Office. Drew is our Company Manager and Fight Director.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bards Eye View #4 - Guess Who's Desk?

Photo by Redd

This pony belongs to Nick Faircloth. He has one of the most interesting desks in the company.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Email Subscriptions Now Available!

Want to keep up with the latest from the Shakespeare Tavern Blog? You can now subscribe both in an RSS Feeder and by Email to our feed. These links are located in the top right corner of the blog.

Just to make it even easier for you, though, here is a quick link to subscribe by email!

Subscribe to Inside The Shakespeare Tavern by Email

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bards Eye View #3 - Our Favorite Lolcat

Photo by Redd

Our upstairs community bulletin board has many pictures on it, but this is my personal favorite. Highly appropriate, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bard's Eye View #2 - Caution, Amee Working

Our Art Manager, Amee Vyas putting together information about our Education Programs, and our next Playbill.

Photo by Jeanette

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Are you Ready to Roar on Friday?

This Friday (July 18th) we have a special promotion for you here at The Shakespeare Tavern. Tickets for A Midsummer Night's Dream are two for the price of one in ALL sections! Also, since it's Friday, all pints at our bar are half price.

If you haven't seen A Midsummer Night's Dream yet, you're missing a fantastic production. If you HAVE seen it already, come back and check out our new cast members Nick Faircloth as Flute, Amee Vyas as Hermia (this is your last chance to see her in this role!), Lynna Schmidt as Titania and Hippolyta, Mary Ruth Ralston as Moth and Philostrate, and Tiffany Porter as Snout.
To take advantage of this fabulous offer just call Becky at the Box Office at 404-874-5299 and hit zero. She'll ask you for a password, which is Acorn and don't forget to let her know that you saw the offer on the Tavern Blog!

Friday, July 11, 2008

July Featured Actor - Amee Vyas

Amee Vyas has been with The Shakespeare Tavern since the original Apprentice Company in 2002.

Amee graduated from New York University with a degree in English. After living in New York, she chose to move to Atlanta because it was cheaper and she was tired of being broke. The original Apprentice Company were asked to write essays about Shakespeare as part of their application, and as a strong writer, Amee was very encouraged by this. She was called back based on her essay and auditioned with David Weber and Joshua Howland. The three of them were among the first group selected to be Apprentices at the Tavern.
On the last day of her apprenticeship on the way to her scene showcase, Amee got into a car accident and didn’t think she would make it in time for her show, her car limped over to the Tavern and she managed to get on stage just in time, and did “awesome”.

After her apprenticeship was over, she was called in to audition for Romeo and Juliet, and thus began what she calls her “Juliet Odyssey”; she has played or understudied Juliet every year since then either here at the Tavern, or at another theatre.
Amee made plans to leave Atlanta for California in 2004, but instead was brought on as a full time staff member and was cast in six plays, many of them in lead roles.

Most recently, Amee played Viola in Twelfth Night in January, a role she will reprise in the August-September play repertory.

Her favorite roles so far have been playing Viola in Twelfth Night and Adriana in Comedy of Errors. She particularly enjoyed the latter role because she felt she trusted her own strengths and instincts, and that there were some great unexpected parts of the play that she felt she owned.

Amee would like to one day play Margaret in the Henry VI plays, because she loves how wicked she is. She says she “adores her biting consonants”. She also likes the idea of playing in a 4-play arc. Another dream role for her would be as Ariel in The Tempest.

When I asked her what her favorite quote was, she replied that she didn’t have one because Shakespeare has a saying for everything. In fact the word that resonates most with her is just “Shakespeare”.

Amee’s real acting dream is to perform in a West End show in London. She says that she wants to do it even if she has to wait until she’s 85. She prefers stage to film. Film has more realism and she feels as though theatre holds more possibilities.

Amee will be understudying the role of Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream in July, and playing Viola in Twelfth Night in August and September.

Things you didn’t know about Amee?

She was a pool shark when she was five.
Chris Noth thinks she hates him, she bumped into him four separate times when she lived in New York.
She once mistook Ethan Hawke for a homeless guy.
She was separated from Prince Harry by security in a club in England because she made a scene.

Other previously Featured Actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream are:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shakespeare Intensive for Teens Performances

During the last few weeks the Tavern has been a hive of daytime activity with 15 teenagers learning all about Shakespeare and being directed by Mary Russell and Troy Willis. Troy describes them as a "group of little geniuses", so I would highly recommend coming to see one of their performances of The Tempest this weekend.
They will be performing on Saturday June 28th and Sunday June 29th at 2pm and then again at 7pm on Monday June 30th. Tickets are very inexpensive, so if you can, come and see what may well be the future of Atlanta theatre.

Tickets are available for purchase here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tavern News Update

As we speak, the lovely and diligent Becky Cormier-Finch is working on getting our 2008-2009 Season available for sale on our website. Since we are doing 16 shows in the next 12 months, this is quite an undertaking. Yes, that’s not a typo, we really are doing that many plays. It’s our 20th Anniversary Season and we wanted to make it memorable.

As a member of the Box Office Goddess team, let me bestow upon you some advice. If you are looking for tickets to A Christmas Carol, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Little Night Music, and any of the Preview performances of any of the other shows, I would highly recommend that you buy them as early as you can because they will sell out and we’d hate for you to miss them.

In other Tavern news, we are about to print the next issue of The First Folio, our playbill for the season and we have a little extra room for advertisements. If you have a business or know of a business that would like to advertise with us, please don’t hesitate to contact me at for more information. We are currently reaching 40,000 to 60,000 patrons a year and we are constantly growing!

We have just added a new member to our Board of Directors, and would like to give a huge Tavern welcome to Paul Burnore. Mr Burnore has been a great supporter of ours for many years and is a welcome addition.

We have also just received a donation from Chick-Fil-A Donations Committee supporting our Education Programs. A big thanks to Ted Tassopoulos for his help on setting that up.

Thanks for reading! See you at the show!

-Redd Horrocks-Maier
Public Relations and Patron Services

Thursday, June 5, 2008

June Featured Actor - Matt Nitchie

It’s not very often that when I ask people about their history with the Shakespeare Tavern they tell me they’ve wanted to work here since they were a kid, but Matt Nitchie is one of those people who constantly amazes me, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

When he was eleven, Matt started coming to the Shakespeare Tavern with his parents. Even as a child, Matt considered the Tavern the “Pinnacle of Atlanta Theatre”, and he wanted to be an actor and work here.

After getting a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre, he joined the third Apprentice Company, known as the Cicadas because they were the “loud and obnoxious ones”. Matt has been on the stage at the Tavern on and off since then.

Last year, Matt had made a goal that he was going to do a musical. He says that he loves musicals because he enjoys the idea of “carnivalesque expressions of emotions” and he feels that musicals force creativity. Shortly after he had decided he wanted to be in a musical, he was cast as Cliff in our production of Cabaret.

Matt has always really enjoyed playing the crazier people or the monsters. This might explain why he would love to play Caliban in The Tempest. He would also like to play Edgar in King Lear because of his transformative nature.
He would also like to play Hamlet, because Hamlet is self-indulgent… a role he was not interested in until he got a chance to do the To Be or Not To Be speech in class and truly explored the character.

Matt also likes puppetry. He likes the idea of not adhering to an idea of realism. He’d also like to work in film.

Matt’s favorite role in Shakespeare so far was as Malvolio in Twelfth Night earlier this year. When I asked what he liked about it, he explained to me that he was naturally very shy, and that playing Malvolio was living out the ultimate shy person experience. Malvolio goes from being a very shy and proper person, bottling up feelings that he has to being given the opportunity to let everything out (in the famous Yellow Stocking scene). Matt describes the feeling of going on stage (and excuse me while I paraphrase here) as a bowling ball hitting a trampoline. He says before he goes on he gets nervous and even a bit scared and as it gets closer and closer to his cue line he gets very very tense and then as soon as he walks out on stage it’s like a bowling ball on a trampoline and it comes together and he never feels more alive. To hear him describe it is quite amazing, as you can tell he is an incredibly brilliant, articulate and talented person. He says that acting is completely addictive.

Another interesting role for his recently was as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He really enjoyed working with Mary Russell and getting the opportunity to mess around with her and be as obnoxious and annoying as possible. He enjoyed the opportunity to “throw feasibility to the wind”. Matt feels that he is starting to really gear his performances towards his personal strengths.

Matt’s acting idols include Gary Oldman and Ian Holm. He says he liked the “old crazies”.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Matt will be playing Don Pedro, the Prince. He describes his character as the “nice normal guy” and says that it’s hard to play normal. He is interested in the Royalty aspect of this character and feels that he will be finding the status of the character more and more as the production continues.

After Much Ado About Nothing, Matt will be playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in July, then he will be reprising his role of Malvolio in Twelfth Night in August and September.

Something you don’t know about him? Here are two things:
He really really likes Tabasco Sauce, and he gets spooked by his own ghosts.

Other previously Featured Actors in Much Ado About Nothing include:

Nicholas Faircloth
Matthew Felten
Rivka Levin
Jacob York

Friday, May 9, 2008

May Featured Actor - Jacob York

Jacob York is a new face here at the Shakespeare Tavern. He just graduated from our 2007-2008 Apprentice Company in April and has already been cast in our next two productions. Jacob will be playing a Tragedian in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing.

Hailing from Kentucky, Jacob has spent the last few years traveling around the country working on different projects. He spent a summer with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, where he claims to have learnt more in one summer than he did in college. He has also done some stunt show work, and spent the summer of 2007 at The Lost Colony in North Carolina.

He auditioned for the Shakespeare Tavern Apprentice Company because he liked the thought behind the Tavern. After auditioning, he was convinced that he had blown it because he lost his keys at our building and had several staff members running around searching for them. He thought that it might be a sign of weakness. However, he did of course get selected regardless of his issues keeping track of personal objects.

During his time with the Apprentice Company, he enjoyed text class immensely. He finds Shakespeare’s texts ethereal and liquid. He is also very fond of education, both learning and teaching.

In the future he would like to be a Professor and to teach college or groups of serious young actors. He says that he is a small town boy that misses his home, and has no intention of heading for Broadway or Hollywood.

Jacob’s favorite past roles are John Barrymore in I Hate Hamlet with Murray State University, Blue Ramada (a self-created character) at the Double JJ Resort Theatre, and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because “Everyone has a bad actor inside of them”.

Jacob’s dream role is Hotspur from Henry IV because he is a “loose canon raised in nobility”. From Hotspur also comes Jacob’s favorite line in Shakespeare, which is simply “My name is Harry Percy.”

A non-Shakespeare role that Jacob would love to play would be Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He confesses though that it is unlikely that he would play it because he doesn’t think he would make a good singer or a pretty girl.

Jacob is inspired by the work of Daniel Day Lewis, Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart. As someone who is never without his headphones though, he notes that a lot of his inspiration comes from music, which is currently Ted Leo, Jens Lekman and Daft Punk.

In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Jacob will be playing a Tragedian. He says that he is excited to be working with the other Tragedians in the cast. He greatly enjoys working with Director Jeff McKerley, because he “makes me feel like a part of it”.

Something you didn’t know about Jacob? He has lived in 6 different states in the last 6 years.

Other previously Featured Actors in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead include:

Nicholas Faircloth
Daniel Parvis

Friday, May 2, 2008

GOTTA SEE R & G by Rivka Levin, Development Director

I am writing to encourage you ALL to do yourselves the extreme favor of NOT MISSING this month’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. This is an incredible, funny, poignant production; and trust me, you’ll thank me later for this encouragement.

But wait! I hear you cry. Um… doesn’t the show open NEXT week? How can you know how good a show is before it’s even opened?

Because, dear reader, I have the wonderful and occasionally annoying honor of sharing an office space with the main rehearsal hall. (Welcome to the wild and woolly world of Non-Profit Theater.) So, whilst trying to write our grants and secure sponsorships, I am occasionally compelled to turn around in my chair to watch a particularly wacky or heart-wrenching moment of a rehearsal.

I have been a silent witness to this production (except for when I laughed out loud – oops!) since the first read-through, and I therefore feel uniquely qualified to tell you that with a whole week of rehearsals left to go, this is already a superb production. Jeff McKerley brings all the off-the-wall humor and incredible tenderness to the director’s chair that Tavern aficionados have come to expect from his own live performances. But more than that, he has accomplished what many directors say is 90% of what makes a good show: the right casting.

Paul Hester and Guildenstern (or is it Rosencrantz?) and Nick Faircloth as Rosencrantz (or, erm… wait…) are beautifully cast as the two hapless friends of Hamlet’s whose innocence of political intrigue lands them in hot water. They are in turns immensely clever (as only Tom Stoppard can be) and endearingly naïve; overwhelmed with concern for their fate and in the next breath carefree as school children… and watching them in rehearsal has been an absolute joy. Likewise, Drew Reeves as the Player and his band of tragedians shine with impeccable timing and physical ability. Drew in particular as the histrionic, never-quite-know-where-you-stand-with-him thespian brings an energy and rage to the role that makes him fascinating to watch.

The bottom line: my recommendation is to order your tickets NOW, before the word of mouth which will surely follow Opening Night sells this production out.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Apprentice's Perspective Vol. 3 - Graduation

Hey guys! Wow, it has been a long time since I've been on here.

Well, that's sort of a misnomer. I've been on here, I just haven't been writing. Once again, a lot has happened since I last wrote. Let's try to cover it all. I've got some time between memorizing lines and waiting to go see Iron Man. Wait, did I say memorizing lines? Hmmm...looks like you might just have to wait for that tidbit.

- January was my Tavern stage debut with Twelfth Night. Turns out the time crunch wasn't a huge deal, as I think we put on a really solid show. Matt Nitchie as Malvolio was incredible in a part that is rarely quite so infused with humanity. Though, to call any particular person out is a disservice to everyone else who was fantastic. Though, of course, I have to mention my partner, Tiffany Porter, who was such a great Fabian. She got a great look at all of my acting, as she was on stage for, you know, every single moment of the play from my perspective.

- It was a challenge to take on so many different characters in such a short amount of time and try to make each one distinct. I think Valentine was a particular success. He is, after all, the Warlock Supreme.

- February brought my first understudy project, as I was involved in Romeo and Juliet at the Tavern. So was, for that matter, every single apprentice that WASN'T John Stephen King. I went on as the Prince and had a heck of a time. It was a great experience to work with some people that I hadn't worked with in any real capacity (Jane Bass and Dikran Tulaine, for instance).

- Sadly, I had to miss two of my comrades performances (Derek Randall and Mark Schroeder) in the opening night of R&J, since I had a previous appointment to go to UPTA. I mean, I love Atlanta so far, but that doesn't mean that I'm not going to get out there and test the waters. I went with KG Morton and had a great time. I saw a ton of friends from Lost Colony and even a friend from my old alma mater. It was good to get an idea of where I am outside of Atlanta. Very refreshing.

- By the time that wrapped up, we got our scenes for the final scene night. My text scene was to be a scene from Cymbeline, with Stephen playing Posthumus and myself playing Iachimo. The big thrill, though, was to do a scene from Henry IV Part 1 with Derek playing Prince Hal and myself playing Hotspur.

- The scene night was fantastic with such a great audience. The buildup was great, too. Mike Niedzwiecki was an even handed choreographer. He was very patient and made it clear that we were the guys who controlled the flow and intent of the fight. Toward the end, the idea of having the "best" fight started to fade away and was replaced with a simple urge to tell the story as succinctly as possible, with, hopefully, no little amount of squirming in seats from audience members.

- It was also a pleasure to work with such a cross section of senior company at the Tavern, from Maurice Ralston, Tony Brown, Troy Willis, Laura, Drew, and Jeff Watkins, they all made themselves available to us in the final weeks. I learned so much in the rush to the end, it was hard to keep it all in mind.

- Between these times, I went to my very first Atlanta Unified! What an experience. I'm so much more used to the SETC/UPTA/MWTA format where, after auditioning, you had a day full of call backs to go through. The idea of Unifieds is interesting, where it's essentially one job interview that works for the entire year. That being said, I'm not lightening up my quest to stay employed. Anyone need a headshot?! Let me know.

- The final scene night was a pleasure. From an audience packed with family members and Tavern people to the execution and culmination of these last eight months, it was a night fraught with joy and pain. Yes, just like the song by Rob Base. Sing it now, God's children. Iachimo was slimy and Hotspur was...frankly, to me, it was everything I had wanted. I found myself wanting to keep talking in my dying moments as Hotspur. After all...when he dies...I'm done playing him. What an experience. After a two day sprint, between dress rehearsals, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern rehearsals, day job, and good ol' emotional toil, I was exhausted. So, you know, I've crashed a bit. I'm sick now, but I'll be over it soon.

- Wait, did I say Rosencrantz and Guildenstern rehearsals? Why, yes I did. I'll be appearing as a Tragedian coming up soon. Please come out and see me! Tell me I was exceptional. Or, you know, a solid part of the ensemble, at least. And what an ensemble it is! I couldn't be more pleased to be with my fellow Tragedians (Mike N., Daniel P., Joe B., Doug G. and Drew as our inimitable "Player".) and it's been a great experience working with them and director Jeff McKerley.

- But, you aren't getting rid of me as easy as that. You'll see me next month, as well, in Much Ado About Nothing as the young lord Claudio. I'm super excited and can't wait to get up there with Maurice and see what kind of trouble I can get into.


- For a bit of self promotion, if you want to check up on me, feel free to swing by my website, Jacob DASH or my "professional" blog, which I seem to be updating about as often as I updated this one.

- If anyone is on the fence about whether or not to do the apprenticeship, you really ought to do it. Really.

- Such thanks to everyone, from all those who were mentioned before to Matthew, Holly, Kirstan, Kirk, Redd, Jeanette, Cindy, Debbie, everyone who was kind and appreciated our work, everyone who tried to teach us a bit, every actor, every professor, every volunteer and every single person who saw the shows. If I forget anyone, I'm sorry. Mention it to me, and I'll thank you too. I just met a lot of people in the last eight months.

There are times when it's hard to be an actor. It can be a rough, thankless life ("It's SOOO hard to be an actor," right, Daniel Parvis?), wondering where the next check is coming from or if it's even coming at all. All of you people made it a wonderful environment over the span of the apprenticeship and I cannot possibly thank you all enough.

But I'll try, I guess.

Thank you. So, so, so much.
"We outta here, baby."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy (Belated) Birthday Bill!

Yesterday morning we welcomed 298 students and one couple celebrating their Wedding Anniversary (Congratulations again, Mr and Mrs Childress!) to a matinée of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was a happy day for us here at the Tavern. We always particularly enjoy the 23rd of April. You see, yesterday William Shakespeare turned 392. The cast sang Happy Birthday to him before the show, and there was much rejoicing. Keeping Shakespeare alive and immortal is something that I am particularly fond of. I often wonder what he would have thought if someone told him that his work was going to be performed 40 or so weeks out of the year amongst skyscrapers in a city on another continent 350 years or so after he wrote it. I think it would have given him quite a big head!

Happy Birthday Bill, the big 400 is fast approaching!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April Featured Actor - Mary Russell

Mary Russell has a long history with the Shakespeare Tavern. At first, Mary could be seen running around the building as a Volunteer when she was a senior in high school. Then, she auditioned for the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 Apprentice Company. She became a “Grasshopper” in 2003 and since then she has been a regular face on the Tavern stage since then, becoming an Artistic Associate in 2007.
Mary is currently performing as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a character she enjoys because she feels that Helena goes with her emotions, knows what she wants, and figures out how to get it.

Mary was born and raised in Georgia. She has a BA in Theatre with a Minor in English from UGA.
She has been working in theatre since college, but was inspired to do Shakespeare by Helen Mirren’s 1978 role in As You Like It.

She found the transition from being a Volunteer to being an Actor on stage a challenge because “It was hard to get over the volunteer vibe”. More challenging than that, though, was when she had to take over the role of Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with just four days notice back in 2004.

Mary’s favorite past Shakespeare role was Kate in Taming of the Shrew. She says that she really felt that she connected with the character.
Her favorite non-Shakespeare role was drastically different though. She played Karen in Voices Deaux at Multishades at Theatre Decatur, In this avant garde play, Mary played Karen, a military cadet. This intense role required her to undergo rigorous physical training and to get used to learning contemporary dialogue. She was scared that she wouldn’t be able to do it, but enjoyed the challenge and felt great about the role.

Her dream role would be Rosaline in As You Like It, which hearkens back to her first initial interest in Shakespeare. If she were a musical performer, she would love to play Roxie in Chicago.

She is inspired by the work of Helen Mirren and Johnny Depp.

So what does the future hold for Mary? She would like to stay in Atlanta another five years and continue to work around town. She’s been thinking about going to work in Chicago, but finds the weather off-putting. She would also love to go to Los Angeles and work in TV, especially Sitcoms or Episodic Drama’s. Mary says she likes the structure of the work.

Mary’s favorite Shakespeare quote comes from The Tempest:

"We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."

Something you didn’t know about Mary? She had to wear braces for seven years.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March Featured Actor - Daniel Parvis

A former member of the “Worker Bee” Apprentice Company of 05-06, Daniel Parvis will be a fixture on the Tavern stage for our next three productions, Of Mice and Men, A Midsummer Nights Dream, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

During his childhood, Daniel moved back and forth between Texas and Utah. He moved to Georgia when he was ten, then went back to Texas for his first two years of college at Southern Methodist University, before moving back to Georgia to receive a BA in Theatre at UGA in 2004. Daniel told me that joining the Apprentice Company really made theatre a focus in his life.

Since completing his Apprenticeship Daniel has been on stage at the Shakespeare Tavern many times with roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Troilus and Cressida, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Taming of the Shrew and King John.

His favorite role so far in Shakespeare was the 2007 production of The Taming of the Shrew where he played Biondello. In Non-Shakespeare, he enjoyed playing Lucky in Waiting for Godot at the University of Georgia.

His Dream roles are Iago in Othello, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and Tom in The Glass Menagerie.

When I asked Daniel what his favorite line in Shakespeare is, he responded with a line from Love’s Labour’s Lost:

“Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible than the tender horns of cockled snails.”

Daniel says that he is happy in Atlanta, but would like to work more in film.

When discussing his role in Of Mice and Men, Daniel says that Slim is very strong, centered and confident. He is not driven by ego and is very kind. He has authority. He feels that Slim is very much a grown up role.

Daniel finds inspiration in the work of Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Ewan McGregor.

Something that you didn’t know about Daniel? He cheats at Monopoly every time he plays. Oddly enough although he may be stealing from the bank the entire time, he never wins.


Friday, February 8, 2008

February Featured Actor - Nicholas Faircloth

Since 2003, Nicholas Faircloth has been an active member of the Shakespeare Tavern family. He is currently playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, a new role for him in one of our most popular plays.

Nick has lived in Georgia for most of his life. After high school he looked into going to Northwestern and NYU, but after traveling to Europe, he decided to apply and was eagerly accepted to the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) in England. LIPA was a brand new school with students from all around the world. Anthony Hopkins and Paul McCartney were regular guest teachers. Nicholas received a BA with Honors in Performing Arts. He came back to the US and began performing in the area, and started to randomly meet other members of the Tavern family. In 2003, he auditioned for the second Apprentice Company. At callbacks, he ran into Kirk Harris Seaman, who he had gone to High School with and hadn’t seen for many years. Both Kirk and Nick became members of the 2003-2004 Apprentice Company, and two years later Nick became a member of staff here.

Nick says that his favorite role is usually whatever role he is immersed in at the time. He particularly enjoyed playing Howie in Our Town in 2004.

Nick likes to let things happen in his life. He doesn’t have any set plans to go into film or move to other cities, he likes to wait and see what opportunities cross his path.

His dream role in Shakespeare would be to play Hamlet. He has played Laertes before and says that he would love to see the play from the other side.

On playing Mercutio, Nick loves that he is a he is playing a performer. He finds that Mercutio is a reactor, and talks at and not to people. Nick believes that Romeo is “Love,” Benvolio is “the Soul”, and Mercutio is “the Reactor”. He also admits to finding the bawdiness fun.

Nick’s idols are Al Pacino “I could watch him read the phone book”, Robert de Niro in seventies, Gene Hackman, Daniel Day Lewis, and Sean Penn. He likes people who know how to behave.

Something you may not know about Nick? As a kid one of his first roles was as a Mexican bandito. He also confesses that he cries….. a lot.

Nicholas will be on the Tavern stage again in Of Mice and Men in March, and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead as Rosencrantz in May.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

January Featured Actor - Rivka Levin

Rivka Levin is a woman of many talents. An accomplished actress and musician, she has been a friend to the tavern for over a decade, and began her work on stage here in 2005. She is currently performing in Twelfth Night as Maria.

With a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse and an MFA in Media and Performing Arts from The Savannah College of Art and Design, Rivka is a very experienced and highly trained performer. She is also an accomplished harpist and singer.

Rivka is an Atlanta Native. From a very young age she knew that working in performing arts was her chosen career. She first heard about The Shakespeare Tavern in 1996 when she was performing in a band with Matthew Trautwein, who was in a show at that time. She came to The Tavern as a patron and was excited because she feels that we “get Shakespeare right”. She continued to be an avid patron for years until she was a harpist in The Tempest and then was cast in A Christmas Carol in 2005. Eight months later, she was hired on as Development Director and because a full time member of the staff.

Since then, Rivka has also appeared in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Love’s Labor’s Lost.

Her role in Love’s Labor’s Lost has been her favorite Shakespeare role so far. She says that she fell in love with her character Jaquenetta and had the opportunity to really invent her. She also enjoyed the challenge of playing a character that wasn’t overly intellectual.

In Non-Shakespeare, she greatly enjoyed playing Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest. It was her first experience with period theatre and her character was very witty and idealistic. In comparison, her other favorite role was that of Philimonte in Learned Ladies, a strong matriarchal character. Both shows were important to her as she felt that the casting was excellent.

In the future, Rivka’s dream roles are Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing “I get her. She’s in love with her own wit”, Desiree in A Little Night Music, and Genevieve in The Baker’s Wife.

As far as acting for the camera? Rivka did eight films at The Savannah College of Art and Design and would love to do other Independent Films.

Rivka’s favorite line in Shakespeare is from Much Ado About Nothing, a line of Beatrice’s that goes “But then there was a star danced, and under that was I born”.

When asked about her character in Twelfth Night, Rivka says:

"Maria (aka Mary and Marian) is a waiting gentlewoman to
the countess. She is clever, and loves a good practical joke. I've
discovered that she also has a temper, and is not afraid to speak her
mind. She obeys her mistress (Olivia), but also has some distinct
opinions on the choices Olivia makes. She is in love with Sir Toby Belch
(though she tries hard not to show it), and is amused by his
drunkenness, even at the same time as she counsels him that "drinking
will undo you". For all that she dislikes Malvolio and hatches the plot
to trick him into believing that Olivia loves him, she also has a soft
heart and comes to feel remorse for how far the game ends up going."

She also says that what she likes best about Maria is her sense of humor and her quick wit. She likes that the other characters clearly respect Maria’s cleverness.

Something you didn’t know about Rivka? She has a strong tomboy side that wants to climb trees and get muddy.

Something that you might know is that she is also one third of the popular Celtic Folk band Three Quarter Ale.