Experiences of a first-time actor

My name is Darrell Hobson and A Midsummer Night's Dream is my first acting experience since my one and only part in my high school musical way back in the mid 80's.  My partner and I have been attending Chicago Street Theatre's opening night's productions for 6+ years.  Each time I saw a show, it brought me back to watching my little brother up on stage in high school and wanting to be up there.  When Chicago Street had their open casting call for productions last fall, I felt it was my chance.  I didn't want a large role, and this production was perfect.  It would get my feet wet and help me understand what it takes to stage a professional style show.

 Once the first week of rehearsals was announced, I then knew what I had gotten myself into; six weeks and dozens of hours of practice.  Going to the first rehearsal was a little scary.  I felt like I knew a lot of the actors and directors since I had been to so many performances and opening night galas, but I still felt like an outsider.  Everyone really knew each other already and most had taken acting classes before (unlike me).  I tend to be a shy person until I get to know people, but as more rehearsals came and went, I started to feel more comfortable and a little more open.  There tends to be a lot of down time during practice and that can be a little boring, but it provides a chance to get to know the other actors.  I also noticed a lot of the experienced actors came prepared for the down time by bringing something to read or a smart phone to keep them busy.

Since this production contains roughly 25 actors with several acts and scenes, the rehearsals were divided up into different groups of actors on different nights.  It wasn't until a couple of weeks into practices that the entire production was brought together and I really knew how it all fit together and saw it evolve into a professional, polished performance.  The same thing could be said of the stage set.  I was amazed that the set wasn't really completely finished until 5 days before the first performance, and the director had to plead for the actors to help.  I guess I really didn't know who built the set before working on this production.

 I really don't have any lines of dialogue in this production, and I am amazed how someone can memorize all of those lines of Shakespeare.  I am in complete awe of that as well as how they remember all of their stage cues and movements.  But probably what I am most impressed with are the costumes and the directors’ set design.  I don't consider myself a very creative and artistic person, and I really admire people that can dream up things so amazing.    Costume designer JoBeth Cruz is a true artist.  Once the actors put on their costumes, the roles truly come alive.

 Overall, this has been a wonderful experience for me.  It really makes me, as a future audience member, and maybe another acting role, truly appreciate the art of acting and all of the work it takes to bring such an elaborate production to life.  I can honestly say this has been nothing like my high school production where Mom, Dad, and other family members in the audience were prepared to give nothing but praise and come back to every performance.  The audience at Chicago Street Theatre expects nothing but the best, and with the direction of Eric Brant, Steve Holm, and Mary DeBoer, that is exactly what they will get.