From the outside looking in, being part of a touring company looks like a daunting task. Yet, for those involved in 'The Acting Company', touring around the nation is a dream come true. Traveling from city to city, the Tony Award Winning 'The Acting Company' puts on world-caliber shows that reach audiences of all ages. This year, they will be traveling to Wisconsin with stops in both Whitewater and Madison. Cast member Michael McDonald is overjoyed to be able to share 'The Acting Company's' version of 'As You Like It' with these new audiences, but also excited to return to Wisconsin to see his grandma, his aunt and his car.
While McDonald might be missing his grandma, he went on to say that the touring company creates a family-like bond. Actor Ray Chapman found that you stop missing places and start missing the people. Being on the road for months with the same cast teaches you to create a new family dynamic almost immediately. McDonald claims, "the company is almost forced into a family unit." But, luckily, with the 'As You Like It' cast, being a family is just an added perk.
Ray Chapman, stated, "audiences come hungry to see these works." 'The Acting Company' prides themselves on being able to create theater that is as original as possible. "Audiences are always excited to be able to participate." Participation helps to create an electric experience for the cast and audiences.
After the show, the company takes time to have talkbacks and even at times, work with students in the area. Actor Chris Thorne has found that audiences are always interested in talking about the shows and learning more. "The talkbacks are my favorite part of the show because you can work with all of the people in the area that you are visiting." Not only does the cast enjoy the talkbacks, but it creates a bond between the actors and the cities that they visit.
The relationship between an audience and touring company is always a delicate balance, especially when viewing a complexly written Shakespeare play. "Come to our show with an open mind and no preconceived notions", says McDonald. While reading the plays and gaining a background on the works is always a good plan, some viewers just don't have time.
"About 70 percent of our audiences haven't seen works like the ones that we are performing" stated Chapman. But, coming in with an open mind can be easier said than done. Even if the viewer has seen the same play hundreds of times, each production and each company does something a little different. 'The Acting Company' prides themselves on their ability to be different and play into every word that is written in these important works.
The audiences also have an important role in the relationship. Chapman has found that "people come to the theater and want to have fun." Luckily for both the audience and the actors, having fun at one of 'The Acting Company's' shows isn't hard. But, the more the audience gives back to the actors, the more the actors give back to the audience. Hopefully, Madison and Whitewater audiences will be able to give back the same love that 'The Acting Company' is ready to dish out.
'The Acting Company's' website can be found here- www.theactingcompany.org
Tickets for Madison performances can be found here-http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/Season12-13/as-you-like-it.html
Tickets for Whitewater performances can be found here-http://www.uww.edu/youngauditorium/season/1213asyoulikeit.html
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos