Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Conversations with Some Merry Men (Day Two)

As many of you know, this year has marked our fifth season here at Makeshift Theatre Co. And to celebrate we've been taking time to sit down with the cast and crew of some of our most recent family shows. This Month sees the return of the show that started it all: Robin Hood. And as part of the celebration of this wonderful show, we are once again chatting with the cast and crew.

Today I'm sitting down with Matthew Arnold. A graduate of Emerson College's, Matthew is a familiar face to Makeshift Audiences, having appeared as the Prince in Sleeping Beauty and, most recently, D'artagnan in the 3 Musketeers.

So, within the play you take on a couple of roles, primarily the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. But that's not the role audiences will first see you in. You initially appear as the frazzled stage manager, Ozzie. Tell us a bit about that particular character.
Ozzie is the stage manager; it's his job to keep everything together from behind the scenes and make sure the show runs smoothly.  He's pretty panicky when things start to go wrong, and he's always keeping an eye on everything.  I like that constant sense of urgency; it's present in everyone, but I think Ozzie feels it most.

What do you think audiences will really connect with in this adaptation?
There's a degree of interactivity that is a lot of fun; the audience is often asked to respond to what's going on onstage, and sometimes even take part firsthand!

Artistic Director, Andrew Rhodes returns to the director's chair for this outing; what was it like working with him?
I've been working with Andy for a few years now, and it's a blast.  There are a lot of directors who get all high-and-mighty and go on about the Art of Theatre; Andy is not one of these.  He's well-grounded, but has a wonderful well of energy and creativity.  It's really inspiring.

The Misdirected Theatre Company series was created by renown local author, Jack Neary. What attracted you to his style of writing?
I like the idea of the crew stepping up to put on the show.  It's a really unique take on the story, and on storytelling in general.

What are some of your favorite roles you've ever played?
I really enjoyed playing D'Artagnan in last year's production of The Three Musketeers.  It was fun to put my stage combat skills to the test.  I also played William Ashby, a wealthy blowhard, a few years ago in Emerson Stage's production of The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

What was the hardest thing you've ever had to do as an actor?
When I was in high school I played a blind man; it was a challenge, especially during one performance where a prop wasn't where it was supposed to be, and I had to find it without actually "looking" for it.

What is it about performing in theatre that you really love?
I like the level of teamwork required; everybody has their job and they do it, and in doing so they help the others to do theirs.  It's the kind of collaboration you rarely see anywhere else.  Everybody needs everybody else, so everybody does their best.
Seriously, how do you memorize all those lines?!
Honestly, it just kind of happens.  Once I've rehearsed a scene enough it becomes a natural thing; each line is an instinctive reaction to its cue.

Makeshift shows have a very high energy level. how do you keep your energy levels up?
Everyone has boundless reserves of energy, even if we don't know it.  I don't drink coffee or anything like that because I don't need to; I have all the energy I need inside me and around me, kind of like a Jedi.  Yes, that's it, I'm a theatrical Jedi!  Being onstage is one of the things that, for me, lets that energy (or should I say Force?) out.

If you had one piece of advice or encouragement to give to any child thinking of getting into theatre, what would it be?
Stay confident!  It's a lot of hard work, and it won't always work out the way you want it to.  Keep believing in yourself, no matter what happens.

The Misdirected Theatre Company Presents: Robin Hood! is performing throughout April. Visit for more information!

The Regent Theatre
Arlington, MA
April 11th at 2pm
The NextDoor Theatre
Winchester, MA
Shows Spring vacation week!!
April 21st at 10am & 2pm
April 25th at 10am

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