Marcee Doherty-Elst is a Milwaukee-based actor and Co-Founder of TheateRED, host of four Unrehearsed shows to date.
Q. How did your Unrehearsed Shakespeare journey begin?
MARCEE: “As part of something incredible – the audience! My husband, Christopher Elst, did his first Unrehearsed show the year we started dating, so my journey started as an audience member! I found the direct address with the audience engaging and loved being able to discover parts of the text for the first time right alongside the actors performing (one of my most vivid memories is Glen Wall with a green onion at my 1st Unrehearsed performance at Eureka College in Illinois), but quite honestly, the thought of actually performing Unrehearsed really made me nervous. But, I couldn’t resist the siren call of the scroll – it was just so incredibly obvious how much fun the actors have performing the show and I wanted to experience that energy. Plus, I had gotten to know many of the actors from being in the audience of so many of Christopher’s shows, so I also wanted to have fun onstage alongside them! I was also really interested to learn the technique and see the impact that it would have on my approach to more conventional performance styles.”
Q: So, has Unrehearsed affected your approach at all?
MARCEE: “Definitely. Most markedly I think it has made me a better listener onstage. Unrehearsed forces you to listen to others onstage and be present in the moment – and, in fact, it depends on it – and I think it is such an important ability. I also think it has taught me better preparation methods – my favorite point to emphasize when talking to people about Unrehearsed Shakespeare is ‘Unrehearsed is not Unprepared!’ On a purely practical note, making a scroll is a great way to learn and run your lines for any show so that has been useful, as well!”
Q: In addition to acting, you’ve watched your fair share of shows before taking up the scroll. Have you noticed much evolution in the technique over the years, or would you say it’s a pretty solid style?
MARCEE: “Very true – Julius Caesar marks the 6th Unrehearsed Shakespeare show I’ve done, but I still think that I’ve been in the audience for more! I think what I’ve noticed is the product of folks becoming more and more expert in the technique, which results in greater creativity and natural charisma in their performance and in finding ways to engage the audience and tell funny and tragic stories with rich gestural choices. Having been in the audience for so many shows, it is fun to watch actors take on larger and more challenging roles than they have in the past and see them Rock It! So, I guess I’d say that the style seems solid but it is evolving as folks become more experienced in that they continue to find ways to add meaning, depth, and frivolity to their performances. It is also very cool to see new faces – the growth of the troupe makes me really excited for the future of Unrehearsed Shakespeare!”
Q: TheateRED has hosted and produced four Unrehearsed productions in Milwaukee. What can you tell us about the future of the company?
MARCEE: “Unrehearsed Shakespeare will always be a part of Theater RED – our very first Theater RED show was an Unrehearsed performance of The Comedy of Errors in Milwaukee, WI. We performed free, outside in a park and during the opening monologue, the skies opened up and poured rain on us! Our intrepid actors and about 25 brave audience members scrambled under a very small nearby band shell and it was one of the most engaging performances that I remember! Actors and audience were huddled together – it was really fun! Our second Theater RED show (indoors this time) was Twelfth Night, which we performed in January 2013 on twelfth night, was a huge success with almost 100 people in Milwaukee experiencing Unrehearsed Shakespeare for the first time – it was electric! We’ve also produced Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Merry Wives of Windsor and again had great audiences and a lot of fun – it is great to see audience members coming back for Unrehearsed shows and bringing their friends! There’s nothing else quite like it and we love being able to bring that to Milwaukee.
“Theater RED’s mission involves creating opportunities for new playwrights, providing challenging and prominent roles for women in productions, and establishing a community where learning and creativity are fostered. In 2013, we were able to fire on all 3 of those cylinders with our Unrehearsed shows and our first full production – the world premiere of A Thousand Times Goodnight by a man who needs no introduction in the world of Unrehearsed Shakespeare, Jared McDaris! Looking ahead, we want to continue to produce new works by local playwrights and continue to be focused on shows that provide meaningful work and prominence for the many very talented women around here! Unrehearsed Shakespeare allows us to bring more Shakespeare to Milwaukee and support our Theater RED goals by providing learning opportunities for actors to grow and develop and utilizing gender-blind casting to allow women greater prominence in productions.”
(For more information on Theater RED and their past or upcoming productions, “Like” them on Facebook or visit www.theaterred.com.)
Q: Favorite role?
MARCEE: “Gosh, that’s really hard! I guess I’d say I have 2 favorites – I loved playing Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor because of all of the great interaction she has throughout the play with Mistress Ford and Falstaff and I also loved playing Speed in Two Gentlemen of Verona because it is always very challenging but lots of fun to play a Clown/Fool character.”
What’s Marcee gonna play this time?
Find out soon!
March 18 & 25
Justin’s, 3358 N Southport Ave (Just off the Southport Brownline stop)
Doors open at 7:00, show starts at 7:30
$5 suggested donation at the door