Tell us a little about yourself and what roles you have played at the American Shakespeare Center.
My name is Ronald Peet and I am a (relatively) new actor with the American Shakespeare Center. I performed with the 2011/12 Almost Blasphemy Tour and am currently in the 2012 Summer Season.
I was born in Nassau in the Bahamas and grew up there and in Kennesaw, Georgia. I spent a year at Emory University before transferring to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where I walked away with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Drama (2010.)
In The Winter’s Tale, I played the Old Shepherd and a Jailer; in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I played Francis Flute, Peaseblossom, and Philostrate; and in 'Tis Pity She’s A Whore, I played Richardetto.
How/where did you first hear about the American Shakespeare Center? What made you want to audition?
At that point, my resume was a little top heavy with Shakespearean roles (I had done another production of The Winter’s Tale the year before graduating), and so I did an internet search for the best-reputed Shakespeare companies and theaters in America. During this search I stumbled upon the American Shakespeare Center’s website and I was enthralled! The pictures of the Blackfriars Playhouse looked unreal and the theater’s mission to do Shakespeare simply, boldly, and to be understood, won me over. I sent my headshot and resume to the address on the website and a few weeks later I was granted an audition which led to a call-back and an invitation to join the company!
I had never done a theatrical tour before coming to the ASC (the tour was actually my first professional job) and my well-intentioned idea to ask my circle of friends what their experiences were with touring ended up confusing and scaring me more than anything else. I was warned that touring would drive me crazy and that I’d get tired of doing the shows and that I’d get homesick. Though tour did end up driving me a bit crazy, I never grew tired of doing the shows and I didn’t feel that homesick. One wonderful thing about repertory theater is that it’s much more difficult to grow tired of the work than if you’re doing the same show day-in and day-out.
What I liked most about touring was seeing the wonder and joy of people of all ages truly understanding Shakespeare’s words and themes (in most cases for the first time.) We played the gamut of demographics (age, race, socio-economic status) and there wasn’t a single audience that didn’t roar during the curtain call.
I had the chance to be a sociologist of sorts because I had many “listening” moments onstage where I could observe the audience and their reactions without the veil that comes along with having to say a line and convince/explain/question an idea. What I learned from all of this covert observation was that us actors need to trust that audiences are smart. The less we spoon-feed them and the more we speak the rich language with true intentionality and our own truth, the more the audience will be moved. And most importantly, you can’t judge an audience member’s experience of a play by the look on his or her face during the play - people often look strange when they’re truly listening.
I have no juicy college-campus-party stories to tell from the tour (sorry) and even trying to single out an audience or town that stands out above the rest somehow seems unfair to all the amazing and loving people that support us and patronize us. What I’m going to walk away from this tour with, above anything else, is a love for my tour-mates. I had the opportunity to room (one-on-one) with all of them except for the married couples and Glenn Schudel (the tour manager), and I made it priority to get one-on-one time with Glenn and the couples.
As I said earlier, this tour was my first professional gig and I was nothing short of terrified in moving to Virginia with the intention of doing Shakespeare all across America. My cast-mates/tour-mates calmed me down, inspired me, tested me, enlightened me, and loved me. I’m forever grateful for that.
No two characters that I play this season are alike so it’s iffy for me to rank one above the other. The most challenging character for me has been Richardetto (‘Tis Pity) because of his role in the play as a whole - his storyline isn’t the major storyline, yet it intersects with almost every other character in the play at one point or another - and the audience needs to not only understand why he’s in the play but what he’s trying to do...AND he’s incognito for half the time. The extreme costume helps to set up the “disguise” element but I think that his behavior has to differ between when he’s playing the doctor and when he’s himself, speaking to the audience or to his niece. The challenge of making him “a character in disguise” without losing any of the important information he delivers while in disguise was/is the toughest challenge I have this season.
The audience favorite is, of course, Francis Flute as Thisbe (Midsummer)during the play-within-a-play when I come out in a blue dress. The character that I used to fear and now love dearly is the Old Shepherd...at first he was a caricature and now he’s just me...much older!
The cord that, for me, strings together ASC on Tour to the Spring Season to the Summer Season is my sleep schedule. Regulated sleeping on the road was a hodgepodge mess - if I slept during a six hour drive, it’d be extremely challenging to fall asleep that night. I regulated my sleeping for a bit once the tour came back to Staunton but then once rehearsals started for the Summer season, I found myself needing to shift sleeping times (because of early rehearsal times.) I never realized how directly sleep can affect mood, performance, and SANITY. I treasure sleep now, especially REM sleep.
It’s also been some kind of wonderful being able to be a member of two different families at the same time. I love and trust my Almost Blasphemy people and I’m falling in love with the resident troupe more and more each day.
I look forward to Morocco’s grace (The Merchant of Venice), Guiderius’s beheading scene (Cymbeline), and Arthur’s everything (King John)!!!
I just want to thank anyone who takes the time to read through this and to let you know that you are what makes the theatre: conscious people hungry for good stories!!
Photos: Ronald Peet as Francis Flute and Kevin Hauver as Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2011/12. Ronald Peet as Arthur and James Keegan as Hubert de Burgh in King John, 2012. Photo by Michael Bailey.
|<< May 2013 >>|
Saturday, May 25, 2013, 2:00 pm
Love's Labour's Lost
Saturday, May 25, 2013, 7:30 pm
The Duchess of Malfi
Sunday, May 26, 2013, 2:00 pm
Love's Labour's Lost
Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 7:30 pm
The Duchess of Malfi
Thursday, May 30, 2013, 7:30 pm
Thursday, May 30, 2013, 10:00 pm
Friday, May 31, 2013, 7:30 pm
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