Actor-director Marc Singer, internationally known as the hero in the “BEASTMASTER” series of feature films, is directing William Shakespeare’s perennial classic, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at The Group Rep located at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in the NoHo Arts District. Rehearsals have already begun, with the opening scheduled for November 17, 2017. I sat down with Mr. Singer prior to a Sunday afternoon rehearsal for a chat about the production.
LtoR Marc Singer and Anna Gion. Photo: Doug Engalla
R.A.: How did the idea to do A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM evolve?
Marc: I performed a one-man, 60-minute show comprised of 15 Shakespearean characters in 2015-2016. Oberon from Midsummer’s was one of the characters. My interpretation of the character was strikingly different than the norm. In exploring the play I discovered that the true through line of the piece had been lost and it was time to rediscover it. I became convinced that I could demonstrate a reawakening of the author’s intent. I would, as a matter of course, direct and play Oberon. That’s what we’re doing here with a wonderful cast in place, at the GRT.
LtoR Marc Singer, Doren Sorell. Mikel Parraga-Wills, Anna Gion. Photo: Doug Engalla
R.A.: Without revealing too much, what are the standout factors in your interpretation of the piece that’ll make IT stand out?
MARC: It’s difficult to describe what makes MID so strikingly particular. [In my interpretation], Oberon’s place as driver of the storyline is now paramount in the story structure. The play moves forward because of his conflict with Titania over the Boy. It is customary for that conflict to seem like a sidebar issue, but in our production, Titania and Oberon represent the play’s central theme.
R.A.: You have a well known love for Shakespeare. What draws you to his work?
MARC: My father introduced me to Shakespeare when I was ten and in the fifth grade. He has been my intellectual advisor ever since. The world is a random and often chaotic place. Shakespeare provides a road map that makes sense of the world’s chaotic enactors. The work represents a lower case mission to me to pass on insight into those works before they are disfigured beyond rediscovery. In my mind, Shakespeare represents the cultural structure of modern humanity. He should be studied with that value in mind. MID is my first opportunity to fully implement my knowledge and training into a full length piece. I credit the realization of this idea to GRT’s co-artistic directors, Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield.
Marc Singer and cast. Photo: Doug Engalla
R.A.: Tell me a little about your casting process.
MARC: Casting was quite different and paradoxically easy. I’ve been a member of GRT a relatively short while and I found, during the casting process, that I was surrounded by powerful and skillful colleagues. It was an “embarrassment of riches.” Finding actors to audition was the easy part. The hard part was deciding! I stuck around to watch a bit of rehearsal. At this point, he was working with the younger actors in the cast playing the Fairies. Marc jumps up on stage regularly, acting all the parts, moving through the space and reciting the lines, demonstrating how he wants the scene played. Thusly, he puts he actors through their paces, demoing how he wants the scene done. His knowledge of the individual character viewpoints and where they reside in the overall, is impressive! Aside from the “Beastmaster” series, Mr. Singer has logged hundreds of hours of film and TV in shows like “V: The Final Battle,” “The Young and The Restless,” and “Dallas” He won the L.A. Drama Critics Award for Petruchio in “Taming of the Shrew” and has authored a book, “THE SYSTEM: How to Act Shakespeare.” He can be seen soon in TV’s “ARROW” as General Shrieve.
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