You Said It…

One very strong element to Shakespeare in the Park is COMMUNITY and the program for our inaugural season includes accounts of our individual connections to Shakespeare.   On this page, we’d like to share some of the stories we’ve gathered.

Enjoy.

The thing that excites me is knowing that this is completely new to Milwaukee and that we will be offering some really great art to a really great city.

Allie Babich, Arrowhead High School Senior and member of The Tribe

The thing that excites me the most about being in the cast for The Tempest is the new family in which I have become a part.  I am so fortunate to have met such a diverse, kind and fun-loving group of dedicated people.  I am also excited to be a part of such a unique project never experienced in Milwaukee.  This is such a beautiful risk that you can’t help but feel anything less than pride.

Na Tasha Carr, Alverno Senior, Optimist Theatre Intern and member of The Tribe

Free Shakespeare in the Park is important to Milwaukee because our city has never been exposed to anything like this.  I believe this is the change Milwaukee needs in order to unite and entertain the people in this city.  By building strong theatre foundations where people from all walks of life can join in happiness to be entertained, we are ensuring a brighter future for next generations.

Na Tasha Carr, Alverno Senior, Optimist Theatre Intern and member of The Tribe

The first time I performed  Shakespeare, First Stage Theatre Academy put me on a stage in a class presentation; paired with the only boy who was my height (short!), and we did Hermia and Demetrius from Midsummer.  The way we made the audience laugh got me hooked for life.  I think I was 8 or 9.

Grace DeWolff, Actress and member of The Tribe

The thing that excites me most is being outside!  My favorite theatre to watch is outdoors, but I’ve never been IN an outdoor production.  Live Shakespeare under the stars is totally exciting!  AND:  This Cast!  I’ve decided to be inspired rather than intimidated from all this talent.

Grace DeWolff, Actress and member of The Tribe

Free SITP is important…

because this play is true magic

…and everyone deserves a piece of that.

Grace DeWolff, Actress and member of The Tribe

The thing that excites or intrigues me the most about being in the cast for The Tempest is having a chance to work with the talent that has been assembled.  It is a dream come true and more exciting than I can say.  Truthfully, I find it intriguing that I was cast as Miranda.  I’m not, perhaps, an obvious choice for the role.  I’m happy to have the chance to play a Miranda who looks like she could actually carry some logs; and I’m thrilled to work with a company that has welcomed me with such open arms.

Jocelyn Fitz-Gibbon, Actress and Miranda in The Tempest

Free Shakespeare in the Park is important to the community because…

Shakespeare belongs to everyone and we should all have the opportunity to experience his works.  The themes of The Tempest are universal and so should its audience be.   A community thrives upon activities that draw its members together, creating an inclusive atmosphere for discourse.

Jocelyn Fitz-Gibbon, Actress and Miranda in The Tempest

Free Shakespeare in the Park is important:  Because too many people in Milwaukee are arts have-nots simply because of financial constraints.

David Flores, Actor, Milwaukee Arts Board, Trinculo in The Tempest

First Shakespeare…

The first Shakespeare play I ever did was The Tempest.  It was also the first straight play I ever did.  Before, I was strictly a gypsy in musicals.  For whatever reason, the director wanted a Caliban who could dance, and so this challenging role became my baptism by fire.  It was a life changing experience.  Yes, I had studied Shakespeare as literature but had never tackled it as theater.  This one Shakespeare play unlocked for me the beauty and power of spoken language.  Over the years, many more Shakespeare plays followed along with works by other wordsmiths like Moliere, Marlowe, Shaw, Chekov, Albee, and Pinter.  And to this day I can still recite Caliban’s dream speech at the drop of a hat, carried away anew by the magic and music that we call Shakespeare. 

David Flores, Actor, Milwaukee Arts Board, Trinculo in The Tempest

Free Shakespeare in the Park is important to the community of Milwaukee because we would be achieving something great by inspiring even one person to fall in love with the work of Shakespeare, the excitement of theatre, or even by tempting them to embark on the adventure of literature.  I think there are those who may be intimidated by the language, but it is in this style and intensity, I know people will become as “fascinated” as we have.

Cassondra Gresl, Alverno student and member of The Tribe

Free Shakespeare in the park is important to Milwaukee because, due to the nice weather and the festivals, indoor theatre is a hard sell in the summer. This is an excellent way for us to keep local artists in town year round, and a chance for Milwaukee theatre-goers to experience that heady mix of blank verse and bugspray.

Neil Haven, Actor, Playwright and Sebastian in The Tempest

My first role as a professional actor was with Milwaukee Shakespeare as Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing.  I had just completed an acting internship with Milwaukee Repertory and had landed two shows for Milwaukee Shakes in their next season.  Years ago, when I first moved to Chicago from my home in North Carolina, I spent three seasons working wardrobe for Chicago Shakespeare.  These were the infant days of that visionary company and we worked in cramped quarters at the Ruth Page School of Dance, years before they received their incredible facility on Navy Pier.  The work was simple and fierce, and I remember distinctly standing in the wings waiting for a quick change, watching incredible actors work, committing portions of the text to memory that I still remember, and aching way down inside to do that myself.  Now here I was working for a professional company myself.  When I auditioned for Much Ado I was auditioning for Kate Buckley who spent many seasons as the Dramaturg for Chicago Shakes.  She was now directing and I was so nervous, having never worked for her as an actor.  She remembered and embraced me warmly and proceeded to guide me through one of the easiest and most successful auditions I’ve ever enjoyed.  I got the part and on the first day of rehearsal I walked into the hall and saw Ross Lehman and Susan Hart, two of the actors I used to dress and, if I’m to be honest, worship a little from Chicago Shakes.  Once they recognized me they couldn’t have been more welcoming and gracious.  It was such an incredible moment of coming full circle.  I was now at a point in my life where I was sharing the stage with actors who were so formative to my early career, actors who had served as idols (and still do) who I could now call colleagues.

T. Stacy Hicks, Actor and King Alonso in The Tempest

The first time I performed any of Shakespeare’s work it was….

As a freshman at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, I was cast as Titania in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. This was the first of six times I performed the role.  I twice doubled in the role of Hippolyta, but always enjoyed the Fairy Queen.  This first production was very traditional and quite, quite beautiful. It was a lovely way to enter the world of Shakespeare and his magic. I have done two productions of the play which included a symphony playing the Mendelsohn score, an amazing experience.

Angela Iannone, Actor, Director, Educator and Ariel in The Tempest

Free Shakespeare in the Park is important because . . .

This festival is an amazing event because 1.) there are many people (like myself) who have not experienced Shakespeare before and will finally get the chance to experience it . . . for free!  2.) Milwaukee needs more theatre that is more accessible because most theatre events are expensive or a trek to get to.  3.) The arts community needs more mediums and more opportunities for involvement.  There are three types of art: visual, musical, and performance.  We will be able to jumble them all together and showcase them to the community which will inspire and motivate more people to get involved in the arts.  Also, this festival has opportunities for students, such as myself, to help out and apply our personal knowledge to the process but to also for our own growth.

Kate Krakow, Alverno Student, Optimist Theatre Stage Manager Intern

The thing that excites me about free Shakespeare in the Park is the adventure and excitement of pioneering a new form of theatre in Milwaukee as well as being able to work with and learn from an all-star cast of Milwaukee actors including Angela Iannone, a long-time teacher and personal hero.

Trevor Olds, recent Arrowhead High graduate and member of The Tribe

Free Shakespeare in the Park is important to Milwaukee, to the arts community, and to myself because art is not something that can be outsourced. Creativity comes directly from the soul. No work of art can be exactly copied, nor should it be. This is something new to Milwaukee, from Milwaukee. So let’s share this beauty and come together as a community!

Tamsyn Reed, Alverno Student and member of The Tribe

The thing that excites me most about The Tempest is the overwhelming catharsis and intrigue of Shakespearean adventure.  Also, creating a theatrical work freely available to the community with such a splendid group of artists.

Eric Schabla, student and member of The Tribe

My first experience playing with Shakespeare was December of 2009 in UWM’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I played Oberon and was at first intimidated by the notion of playing not only a king, but a fairy king.  I soon learned to delight in the absence of rules that is inherent in being from a different world, one where magic is a common occurrence.  There’s power in the world, power that Shakespeare’s words tap into and let us experience.

Tommy Stevens, UWM Graduate, Actor and member of The Tribe

The first time I performed a full Shakespeare show was at a local community theatre, we did Merry Wives of Windsor and I played Dr. Caius.  It was an absolute blast and we had a lot of fun, the only problem was that I had to learn Shakespearean text with a French accent.  I murder the dialect for the first couple weeks of rehearsal but eventually I felt comfortable and it worked out.  Plus, I looked good in tights.

Ken Williams, Actor, Drama Teacher and Stephano in The Tempest

Free Shakespeare is important because… all Shakespeare is important.  People think that Shakespeare is important because he is a literary genius and we study him because we have to.  Too many people believe that Shakespeare should be touched on in English class and that’s it.  William Shakespeare was able to take the human condition and create that emotion on stage.  He knew how to connect with his audience so much that he still does it today 400 years after he died.  Shakespeare is also important because history is important and his plays and sonnets are a window into the past.  We learn how to deal with future by learning from situations in the past.  Shakespeare wrote those situations down so we will never forget them.  Milwaukee, every artist, every theatre patron and even those that don’t realize they’re fans yet should be thanking Optimist Theatre and their collaborators for this wonderful idea.  It is important!

Ken Williams, Actor, Drama Teacher and Stephano in The Tempest

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