Sarah is a recent Apprentice who debuted this season in Hamlet as the First Player and Fortinbras. You can catch her TONIGHT in the Conspirators’ The Resistible Rise of Her Helmut Drumpf, running these two weekends before the election. You can also see her this December in EDGE Theatre’s A Steampunk Christmas Carol as the Engineer. Sarah will be performing a leading role in King Lear on Monday, Dec 12, and a supporting role on Tuesday, Dec 13.
Q: How were you first introduced to Unrehearsed Shakespeare?
SARAH: I went to see friends in Richard III, attended several performances after that, and finally took the Unrehearsed technique class this summer!
Q: How does Unrehearsed differ from other acting experiences for you?
SARAH: One of my favorite things about performing is the rush of adrenaline you get right before you enter the stage. After so many shows, so many performances, it’s easy to lose that feeling and slip into autopilot. Due to the nature of Unrehearsed, it’s always there.
Q: What, if anything, is your biggest challenge with this technique so far?
SARAH: Keeping gestures relevant and specific to the text, rather than flailing about if I get lost (though that’s better than doing nothing!) Also, you may go into a scene knowing exactly what you intend to do with it, and then your scene partner throws you a proposal that completely shakes things up and you have to adapt to what’s actually happening, rather than cling to what you planned. It’s times like that where Unrehearsed can be the most fun!
Q: One of the defining attributes of Unrehearsed is the lack of a Fourth Wall. How do you feel about this? How does it affect your work and/or prep?
SARAH: It’s so much fun! (Especially because Unrehearsed audiences tend to react enthusiastically). The lack of a Fourth Wall can be especially helpful during a soliloquy when you have no one else onstage to interact with.
Q: What, to you, is the most intriguing thing about King Lear?
SARAH: The frequent references to the natural world and how the chaos that springs from Lear’s banishment of Cordelia is mirrored by the storm.
Q: If Lear asked you to flatter him, would you answer more like Cordelia or more like Goneril and Regan?
SARAH: Gah, what a question. I’d like to think that I would answer with Goneril and Regan’s positivity but with Cordelia’s genuineness so we’d all live happily ever after. End of play.
In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s shuffling off, Unrehearsed is joining Janus Theatre in Elgin, IL for a production of our short-cut of Comedy of Errors.
66 S. Spring Street, Elgin, IL
Saturday, August 13, 1:30pm
TO BE OR NOT TO BE? Unrehearsed Hamlet returns one last time, August 2nd (Tuesday).
BLACK ROCK PUB
3614 N Damen Ave
$5 At the Door
CAST, August 2 (Tuesday)
*Special Guest Artist
The famous Jessie Mutz is back! (Soon!) Jessie will be joining us for Unrehearsed Hamlet this coming Monday the 25th, at BlackRock Pub (3614 N Damen Ave, 7:30pm, $5 at the door).
Here’s a thing I wrote about Jessie when we first learned of her departure to grad school.
Jessie Mutz, Managing Director of the Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company, is picking up and moving back to Florida to further her education. It’s an exciting future, and I (like everyone) wish her the best. Parting is such sweet sorrow, though.
Jessie first met the Unrehearsed World in Summer of 2010. She attended and observed our ReUp, then watched our Chicago debut: Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest. She immediately expressed interest in spreading the technique, fostering classes, and performing more.
This was a dark time for Unrehearsed Shakespeare. Virtually every aspect was managed by one man: me. I had all the company props and costume pieces in my car, since I was homeless. It was a full year before I had the security I needed to produce another show (Shrewthello: Taming of the Shrew and Othello). Jessie was onboard from the get-go, spearheading our advertising, discussing recruitment opportunities, and very happy to finally perform the technique onstage after waiting a full year.
Most of us were introduced to Unrehearsed via the annual Bard in the Barn festival in Macomb, IL. Even though we’d performed four additional shows in our final year of Grad school, we were still used to getting to perform Unrehearsed just once a year.
Without Jessie Mutz, things may well have stayed that way.
Both our 2010 debut and our 2011 Shrewthello had insular audiences. We weren’t reaching new people (we didn’t even make Facebook events!), and even some of our base was dwindling. In 2012, thanks in no small part to Jessie, we finally started to grow.
Collaboration is how companies thrive, and we kicked that off with Blunt Objects’ Shakespeare I Love You. We worked with four other companies to produce Pericles, each of us handling one of the five acts. Thanks to Jessie, we greatly expanded our notoriety in Chicago with this single performance.
Then we went on a Pirate Ship! With the Tall Ship Windy, we got to perform an hour-long cutting of Comedy of Errors at Navy Pier.
It wasn’t until Comedy of Errors that we became a real company, I think. We started having regular meetings (often hosted by Jessie), responsibilities were divvied up and assigned (often to Jessie), and the freedom of delegation allowed us all to thrive in our specific areas of expertise. Imagine producing a show with no design budget and little-to-no control over a cast of 12-to-16 actors, and you can imagine the frustration that was magically lifted from my shoulders, thanks to Jessie.
In 2012, Zack Meyer and I took over a flagging Bard in the Barn festival in Macomb, and Jessie was cast as Rosalind in As You Like It: the largest female role in a single play and the largest Comedic lead in the canon. Preparations for As You Like It were frequently eclipsed by Antony & Cleopatra, the other show in the festival. Despite all this, and despite scheduling and managing text sessions for two shows at once, and despite hosting and managing track proofing sessions, she still managed to deliver a powerful and dynamic performance.
Oh! and later that year we staged Comedy of Errors again. TheaterRED in Milwaukee put up Bard in the Bandshell, and Jessie performed her first male lead: Antipholus of Syracuse, where (among other things) she got to beat up a Dromio that outweighed her by about a hundred pounds of muscle.
2012 was a good year for us, where we sowed and reaped a lot from our new friends in the biz. But in 2013, things really started to explode.
The low overhead of Unrehearsed shows makes it easier to put up productions, and in 2013 we produced nine shows: productions both in Chicago and Milwaukee, small staged readings of new verse plays, and even a high school workshop in Carbondale that Jessie and I ran. In 2013 alone, Jessie played Viola, Hipolyta, Beatrice, the Host of the Garter (AND Anne Page), AND Lady MacBeth. All in a single year!
2014 is a bit slower, but she still managed to knock Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Julius Caesar, and Juliet herself off the ol’ Shakespeare bucket-list.
I’ve frequently said that genius exists in small moments. Jessie’s “Banishment” Monolog in Romeo & Juliet was one of those moments. Her combination of physicality and psychological gesture, her commitment to emotional truth without sacrificing technique, her language, her refusal to judge, and her connection with herself and others, is a rare privilege to observe in Theater. And this was at least 90 minutes in, just when exhaustion starts to set in (and after the crowd-pleasing Mercutio and Tybalt are gone), and less experienced actors might start to flag or fail.
The Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company is suffering a serious loss, but we have grown so much stronger because of Jessie, that we will continue to flourish and grow stronger. And while I hope deeply that she will still be able to attend and perform in some of our shows, I am heartened by the ever-increasing number of actors who show a genuine interest in the technique and freedom and personal growth we can offer. None of this would have been possible without her, and I wouldn’t be the artist I am without her.
Jessie Mutz is a gift to any person or institution that meets her, and I hope Florida appreciates what it has.
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought
I must attend time’s leisure with my moan,
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.
Zack Meyer, Fight Director and founding member of the Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company, will be leaving to pursue his graduate degree very shortly. He has deep roots here in Chicago, so it’s not likely that we’ve seen the last of him, but it goes without saying that he’ll be leaving a noticeable chasm in the Unrehearsed community.
I first saw Zack perform in a studio show at Western Illinois University while I was earning my MFA. His natural charisma, ease with elevated language, and (most importantly) his genuine connections with other actors were immediately palpable. Although I allege without hesitation that he is one of the greatest conventional actors I have yet met, it is in the realm of Unrehearsed Shakespeare where he remains unique.
Zack has been doing Unrehearsed longer than I have. He played Archidamus in The Winter’s Tale, the first first production of the Bard in the Barn Festival, which means Zack spoke the first Unrehearsed words in Illinois and probably in the Midwest. He also portrayed a hilarious Lucio in Measure for Measure, and Romeo himself, all before achieving his degree. Most topically, he played Richmond in Richard III, 2008
Somewhat ironically, Zack and I never interacted onstage while at WIU. We were never cast together, and even when he returned in 2009 for Unrehearsed King Lear, we were scarcely ever onstage and barely spoke to each other.
So it was a bit of a surprise even to me when I realized that Zack has been one of the most influential artists in my development, and that there quite literally would not be an Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company without him.
Like many school theater societies, WIU held an annual award show managed entirely by the students: in this case the Grannies (a nod to Irene Ryan awards). Being the president of WIU’s theater society in 2009, Zack gave a short speech at the award show’s end. I’m paraphrasing of course, but essentially he said: “No matter how many opportunities you have here at WIU, no matter how much you do, when it’s time to leave, it still won’t have been enough. So take advantage of every chance to get to make some art.”
Zack’s brief speech inspired me to get more out of my final year at WIU. Despite some noticeable and (in some ways) almost fatal attempts to do so, this eventually led to my throwing together an Unrehearsed production ofMacBeth. It went well enough, and led to further productions of Merchant of Venice, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet, all before getting my degree in May of 2010.
Things were rough after that: jobless, directionless, often homeless (both of the couch-surfing and the genuine variety), clueless but never without ideals. Despite having no income and no idea where I was going to sleep next week, I helped bring Unrehearsed to Chicago with Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest. Zack played Claudio in Much Ado; he’s never been a creature of ego, despite his abilities, so he also played Adrian in The Tempest.
I had extremely limited means, so we were only doing one or two shows a year, usually at the same time (next year was Shrewthello, which brought us Jessie Mutz and a slightly wider audience). It wasn’t until Orion Couling (coworker and friend of Zack) brought us on the Tall Ship Windy for Comedy of Errors, that things had the chance to take off. This was early 2012, and I had resolved to quit Unrehearsed Shakespeare for good as soon as Comedy of Errors was over.
It was shortly after that (again, thanks to Zack) that a team was assembled to help produce shows, and a proper Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company was formed: Jessie Mutz, Danny Pancratz, Brian LeTraunik, and Zack Meyer. There was an immediate upswing in the number of shows we could produce, and the fate and direction of the company was no longer linked to my (often mercurial) financial/housing condition. Now, we have regular seasons and produce four to eight shows a year. Despite the limitations of our esoteric acting style, we are always trying new things and discovering new insights.
Tonight, Zack is performing in Hamlet. Seeing him perform is a rare treat, and I urge everyone to take advantage of this artistic opportunity, while you can.
July 19 & 25, August 2
@ Black Rock Pub
$5 at the Door
TO BE OR NOT TO BE? Unrehearsed Hamlet finally arrives in Chicago! Featuring a completely different casts each night, this “The greatest of Master Shakespeare’s works” is presented in the wholly unique fashion of Unrehearsed Shakespeare!
July 19 (Tuesday) @ 7:30pm
July 25 (Monday) @ 7:30pm
August 2 (Tuesday) @ 7:30pm
BLACK ROCK PUB
3614 N Damen Ave
$5 At the Door
CAST, July 19 (Tuesday)
Carolyn Baker Biery
Erin Caswell Brutscher
CAST, July 25 (Monday)
Erin Caswell Brutscher
Dawn MT Haley
CAST, August 2 (Tuesday)
*Special Guest Artist
Unrehearsed Shakespeare is looking to schedule new-performer classes for late May and early June. If you’d like to receive more information, please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, to be added to our class contact list.
TEXT WORK: Turn poetic language into immediate action and tangible relationships, independent of traditional rehearsal.
TEAMWORK: Storytelling, in a very literal sense, focuses on group interaction, improvisational impulses, and environmental awareness.
TOTAL WORKOUT: Unrehearsed Shakespeare is physically dynamic and intensely committed in ways that few other performance techniques are. Use some of the greatest phrases ever written to help leave your dramatic inhibitions behind you.
Check out all these photos from our most recent production: As You Like It!
You can see more photos here.
All photos courtesy of iNDie Grant Productions
Alex Boroff is the Managing Director of The Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company. She joined the company in 2012 playing (fittingly) Phoebe in As You Like It. She now returns to the Forest of Arden tonight at Uncommon Ground.
Alex will be stage managing Annie Jr. in Tinley Park with E.D.G.E. Theatre and Down in the Southland, a production featuring typical functioning kids and kids with Down Syndrome. For tickets, email Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: If you were banished by your dukely uncle, where in the world would you flee?
ALEX: I would be banished to the mansion that Richie Rich lived in. I was always really jealous of his basketball hoop in his room.
Q: What is your most recent journey?
ALEX: I went home to Massachusetts for a week at Christmas. I WILL be going to Virginia and Mexico this year for some friends’ weddings!
Q: If you were banished to the Forest of Arden, what three things would you take with you?
ALEX: My first instinct is to go the Noble route (heh…heh…puns), but being a Noble in a Forest would not be fun. I’d rather be a Noble in a castle. Cross dressing would be fine for me because I’m sure the men in the forest of Arden wear more comfortable clothes, but I’d rather wear a skirt so it’s not so hot. I don’t like wrestling, shepherding, clowning, or real estate…..Lover. Let’s go with that. Rawr.
Rawr it on up with Alex!
AS YOU LIKE IT
April 19th & 26th
1401 W Devon Ave
Doors open at 7:00, show starts at 7:30
COME BE SOMETHING GREAT: THE AUDIENCE!