Monday, December 6, 2010

A Logomaniac Examines Romeo and Juliet Quartos and Folios

by Paul Sugarman

Paul Sugarman (bottom right) has appeared with Actors Shakespeare Company at NJCU in Passion’s Slave, Henry the Fifth, The Three Musketeers, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, King John, and Hamlet and will be in the upcoming productions of Logomaniacs and The Tempest. He is founder of the Instant Shakespeare Company which is finishing up its eleventh year of doing annual readings of all of Shakespeare’s plays. To find out more about the Instant Shakespeare Company email He also publishes pocket edition of the First Folio and Quarto settings of Shakespeare’s plays.

At ASC we take pride in working from the earliest published texts of Shakespeare because there are great clues for performance there that modern editing can take away. Some of Shakespeare’s plays were published during his lifetime. These were published in Quarto editions so named because they took the standard printing sheet of the day and folded it into quarters (Approximately 4 ¾” x 6”). This was a standard size for popular books, more serious books were published in Folio which was the size of a sheet unfolded (Approximately 9 ½” x 12”). No one thought plays were worth the seriousness of publication in Folio until Ben Jonson took it upon himself to publish his own plays in that format in 1616. Shakespeare’s plays were not published in Folio until 1623 by members of his acting company in a book titled “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories and Tragedies” known to us now as the First Folio. For 18 of the plays this is the only source we have and those plays would have been lost if not for this publication including The Tempest, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth.

When you first look at these original editions it can be disconcerting. To start with, ‘s’ looks like ‘f’ and the letter ‘u’ is interchanged with ‘v’, the letter ‘i’ with ‘j’. Also this was one hundred years before the first dictionary so the spelling can often be bizarre. One of the first things you have to realize is that these publications were trying to present how the play sounded on the page. In Shakespeare’s time most of the population did not read so that the spoken word was of far greater prominence and these publications were meant to capture the sounds of the plays.

Shakespeare’s Quartos divide into 2 categories: the “Bad” and “Good”. The “Bad” Quartos were pirate editions, unauthorized publications that are thought to have been set from players recollections of a play they had done or what had been transcribed by audience members and published by a printer out to make a quick buck. These Quartos often have more extensive and descriptive stage directions to explain what’s going on onstage. “Good” Quartos are thought to have been put out by Shakespeare’s acting company often to counter a “Bad” Quarto or as another source of income. There is no direct evidence that Shakespeare was very involved in the printing of Quartos.

One of the interesting things to look at between Quarto and First Folio texts is that there are sometimes substantive differences. In the First (Bad) Quarto of Romeo & Juliet, Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech is set as verse, while in the Second (Good) Quarto and the First Folio set all but the last four lines as prose. Some of the Quartos were the direct source for the Folio and some of the plays were rewritten by the time they made it to the Folio.

So now you can have several texts that may contradict each other, but as actors we know that contradictions are really our friends. If a character doesn’t have contradictions they’re boring. The contrasts that they offer are the spice of drama. So if you want to look at the texts you can try the variations out in rehearsal and see which works best for you.
Below are text versions and scans of the original pages of these 3 variations on the Queen Mab speech.
Quarto 1 1597

Mer: Ah then I see Queene Mab hath bin with you.
Ben: Queene Mab whats she?
She is the Fairies Midwife and doth come
In shape no bigger than an Aggat stone
On the forefinger of a Burgomaster,
Drawne with a teeme of little Atomi,
A thwart mens noses when they lie a sleepe.
Her waggon spokes are made of spinners webs,
The cover, of the winges of Grashoppers,
The traces are the Moone-shine watrie beames,
The collers crickets bones, the lash of filmes,
Her waggoner is a small gray coated flie,
Not halfe so big as is a little worme,
Pickt from the lasie finger of a maide,
And in this sort she gallops up and downe
Through Lovers braines, and then they dream of love:
O're Courtiers knees : who strait on cursies dreame
O're Ladies lips, who dreame on kisses strait :
Which oft the angrie Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breathes with sweet meats tainted are :
Sometimes she gallops ore a Lawers lap,
And then dreames he of smelling out a sute,
And sometime comes she with a tithe pigs taile,
Tickling a Parsons nose that lies a sleepe,
And then dreames he of another benefice :
Sometime she gallops ore a souldiers nose,
And then dreames he of cutting forraine throats,
Of breaches ambuscados, countermines,
Of healthes five fadome deepe, and then anon
Drums in his eare : at which he startes and wakes,
And sweares a Praier or two and sleepes againe.
This is that Mab that makes maids lie on their backes,
And proves them women of good cariage. ((the night,
This is the verie Mab that plats the manes of Horses in
And plats the Elfelocks in foule sluttish haire,
Which once untangled much misfortune breedes.
Rom: Peace, peace, thou talkst of nothing.
Mer: True I talk of dreames,
Which are the Chi dren of an idle braine,
Begot of nothing but vaine fantasie,
Which is as thinne a substance as the aire,
And more inconstant than the winde,
Which wooes euen now the frosê bowels of the north,
And being angred puffes away in haste,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.

Quarto 2 1599

Mer. O then I see Queene Mab hath bin with you:
She is the Fairies midwife, and she comes in shape no bigger thê
an Agot stone, on the forefinger of an Alderman, drawne with
a teeme of little ottamie, over mens noses as they lie asleep: her
waggõ spokes made of l_og spinners legs: the cover, of the wings
of Grashoppers, her traces of the smallest spider web, her collors
of the moonshines watry beams, her whip of Crickets bone, the
lash of Philome, her waggoner, a small grey coated Gnat, not
half so big as a round litle worme, prickt from the lazie finger of
a man. Her Charriot is an emptie Hasel nut, Made by the Ioyner
squirrel or old Grub, time out a mind, the Fairie Coatchmakers:
and in this state she gallops night by night, throgh lovers brains,
and then they dreame of love. On Courtiers knees, that dreame
on Cursies strait ore Lawyersfingers who strait dreame on fees,
ore Ladies lips who strait one kisses dream, which oft the angrie
Mab with blisters plagues, because their breath with sweete
meates tainted are. Sometime she gallops ore a Courtiers nose,
and then dreames he of smelling out a sute: and sometime comes
she with a tithpigs tale, tickling a Persons nose as a lies asleepe,
then he dreams of an other Benefice. Sometime she driveth ore
a souldiers neck, and then dreames he of cutting forrain throates,
of breaches, ambuscados, spanish blades: Of healths five fadome
deepe, and then anon drums in his eare, at which he starts and
wakes, and being thus frighted, sweares a praier or two, & sleeps
againe: this is that very Mab that plats the manes of horses in the
night: and bakes the Elklocks in foulesluttish haires, which
once untangled, much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maides lie on their backs,
That presses them and learnes them first to beare,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she.
Romeo. Peace, peace, Mercutio peace,
Thou talkst of nothing.
Mer. True, I talke of dreames:
Which are the children of an idle braine,
Begot of nothing but vaine phantasie:
Which is as thin of substance as the ayre,
And more inconstant then the wind who wooes?
Even now the frozen bosome of the North:
And being angerd puffes away from thence,
Turning his side to the dewe dropping South.

Folio 1623

Mer. O then I see Queene Mab hath beene with you:
She is the Fairies Midwife, & she comes in shape no big-
ger then Agat-stone, on the fore-finger of an Alderman,
drawne with a teeme of little Atomies, over mens noses as
they lie asleepe: her Waggon Spokes made of long Spin-
ners legs: the Cover of the wings of Grashoppers, her
Traces of the smallest Spiders web, her coullers of the
Moonshines watry Beames, her Whip of Crickets bone,
the Lash of Philome, her Waggoner, asmall gray-coated
Gnat, not halfe so bigge as a round little Worme, prickt
from the Lazie-finger of a man. Her Chariot is an emptie
Haselnut, made by the Joyner Squirrel or old Grub, time
out a mind, the Faries Coach-makers: & in this state she
gallops night by night, through Lovers braines: and then
they dreame of Love. On Courtiers knees, that dreame on
Cursies strait: ore Lawyers fingers, who strait dreampt on
Fees, ore Ladies lips, who strait on kisses dreame, which
oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues, because their
breath with Sweet meats tainted are. Sometime she gal-
lops ore a Courtiers nose, & then dreames he of smelling
out asute: & somtime comes she with Tith pigs tale, tick-
ling a Parsons nose as a lies asleepe, then he dreames of
another Benefice. Sometime she driveth ore a Souldiers
necke, & then dreames he of cutting Forraine throats, of
Breaches, Ambuscados, Spanish Blades: Of Healths five
Fadome deepe, and then anon drums in his eares, at which
he startes and wakes; and being thus frighted, sweares a
prayer or two & sleepes againe: this is that very Mab that
plats the manes of Horses in the night: & bakes the Elk-
locks in foule sluttish haires, which once untangled, much
misfortune bodes,
This is the hag, when Maides lie on their backs,
That presses them, and learnes them first to beare,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she.
Rom. Peace, peace, Mercutio peace,
Thou talk’st of nothing.
Mer. True, I talke of dreames:
Which are the children of an idle braine,
Begot of nothing, but vaine phantasie,
Which is as thin of substance as the ayre,
And more inconstant then the wind, who wooes
Even now the frozen bosome of the North:
And being anger’d, puffes away from thence,
Turning his side to the dew dropping South.

Actors Shakespeare Company at NJCU’s World Premiere production of Logomaniacs runs from December 5–19, 2010 at the West Side Theater. Tickets are available through

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Cinematic Guide to Romeo and Juliet

Be it Charles Gounod’s opera, Serge Prokoviev’s ballet score or the Leonard Bernstein musical, nobody seems to be able to get enough of Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers. An ImDb search on the title yields no fewer than 85 entries ranging from a 1916 version with Silent-Era ‘Vamp’ Theda Bara playing Juliet to the possibly despicable, at the very least notorious, “The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet” made in (natch) 1969. Many an argument can be formed in compiling a list of highlights, so the following selection should be taken with a grain of salted popcorn.

To the modern viewer 1961’s West Side Story could seem dated, but in its day the on-location shooting in New York City and subtle altering of the story to reflect the state of race relations earned the movie kudos for gritty realism. Realism is of course, relative – Natalie Wood’s singing was really done by behind-the-scenes workhorse Marni Nixon and Richard Beymer’s singing was really done by Jimmy Bryant. No matter. The electric Jerome Robbins dance numbers were 100 percent legit. Seeing Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris and Eliot Feld charging through the streets of The Big Apple almost makes one want to join the Jets or the Sharks, but wannabes might want to wait till the final reel before deciding to make their gangsta dreams come true.

A year before the salacious “Secret Sex Lives” hit the screen, Franco Zefferelli directed the then-unknown Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in his Romeo and Juliet. The film gained notoriety for the director’s choice in actors who were close in age to the teens as Shakespeare wrote them and achieved immortality for its attention to detail, sumptuous costumes and timeless Nino Rota score. In addition to Hussey and Whiting, notables included Michael York as Tybalt and Milo O’Shea as Friar Laurence.

Anglophiles of a certain age will remember The BBC’s Shakespeare Plays series of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with a quickening of the heart. Production values were disputably bargain basement, but the series boasted unforgettable performances from the likes of Derek Jacobi as Hamlet, a pre-Chariots of Fire Ian Charleson as Bertram in All’s Well that Ends Well and John Cleese as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shew. 1978’s Romeo and Juliet was the very first play filmed for the series. While Patrick Ryecart as Romeo and the then fourteen-year-old Rebecca Saire as Juliet would probably pass unnoticed by audiences of today, Alan Rickman’s somewhat snarly turn as Tybalt most certainly would not. Severus Snape indeed.

Leonardo DiCaprio was the tragic teen of the nineties. Prior to professing, “I’m King of the World!” with Kate Winslet at his side on the soon-to-be-decked Titanic, he was gazing at angelic Claire Danes through a fish tank in Romeo + Juliet. Baz Luhrmann opts to bring the tale into Los Angeles circa 1996 – a world replete with gangs, guns and drag queens all throbbing to the beat of an iPod-ready soundtrack. Thrilling visuals and clever re-imagining of characters and plot often threaten to submarine the text, but it’s still garnering boatloads of fans after more than a decade.

There you have it – an extremely subjective romp through the most well-known film adaptations of one of the most well-known plays of all time. That being said, let’s take a moment for the also-rans. While not exactly teens at the time, Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer made a respectable showing in the 1937 entry. The story is very effectively told using the language of dance in the 1966 Margot Fonteyn/Rudolph Nureyev pairing as well as Alessandra Ferri and Wayne Eagling in The Royal Ballet’s 1984 undertaking. All of these and more are yours for the viewing with the help of a library card or Netflix membership. But nothing quite compares to seeing it live. For that privilege, be sure to stop by Jersey City’s West Side Theater where Romeo and Juliet will be performed from November 5-21 by Actors Shakespeare Company at NJCU. Tickets are available through

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Introducing JC Vasquez!

In Actors Shakespeare Company's ten-year history, Romeo has been played by Zach Calhoon, Colin Ryan and, in a recent ASC Lab, by Jonathan Hopkins. ASC’s Blogger sat down for a chat with JC Vasquez to get to know the company’s newest Montague a bit better.

ASC: What does the JC stand for?
JC: Juan Carlos. I’m Colombian by way of Miami. I was born in Miami. The reason I usually go by JC is because my name in Spanish typically sounds very beautiful but in English sometimes sounds ugly. Also in loud spaces people sometimes think my name is Warren or One, which I do think is funny because there was a Paul Rodriguez movie called ‘Juan in a Million’ (note: that 1994 film is actually called A Million to Juan, but it’s still funny JC!). It’s actually the second most common name next to Mohammed.

How did you get from Miami to New York?
I came to New York for graduate school. I got accepted into the Actors Studio at the New School for Drama. That was a three year program and I’ve been here ever since.

How did you end up finding ASC at NJCU?
That was through Playbill or Backstage. I auditioned and was invited back for a Company callback, but the callback never happened. Lo and behold I ended up seeing another audition notice for the Company, so I sent an email saying “I’d like my callback please!” And so I was invited to a callback and then I got invited to do [The Scottish Play]. And then I auditioned again and got Romeo.

Shakespeare is not where you’ve done most of your work previously. What sort of work had you done before this?
I’m contemporary. I was trained in a more contemporary style. In the past I’ve done a lot of downtown theater and experimental, avant-garde type of stuff. I’ve gotten to do many types of theater but I’ve never gotten to do Shakespeare before now.

This production has a more contemporary look and feel. Do the character and language feel contemporary to you?
Thinking of him as contemporary definitely gives me more license to ask “what would I do as a 16-year-old now?” It creates more freedom for me because I don’t have to feel constricted by the period or be unsure of what the social constructs were back then. If there were any, since it doesn’t feel as though these characters are very limited. Obviously you can’t change the language – the language is of the period. But what you can bring to it is your behavior and I think that’s what will make it seem more contemporary. I can tell you for example in the scene with Romeo and Mercutio’s vulgar wordplay [Act II, scene IV], I keep on having the image of playing around with guy friends where they’ll play the ‘smell-my-fingers’ game. You know what I mean? That sort of behavior is something contemporary audiences get and that’s what I like to watch, as somebody who doesn’t have so much Shakespeare experience. What I like to watch onstage is when the acting is clear in the physicality. I might not be listening for whatever reason, but if I see somebody play around with gestures suddenly I know what they’re talking about. We’re talking about sex? I’m back in!

How has the experience of working on one role in Romeo and Juliet differed from the many roles you played in The Scottish Play?
It’s not really that different. With Romeo, each scene he’s in shows me a different side of him. If I was looking at the beginning of the play and I fast-forward to the end of the play, these could be characters in different plays because they’re so different. It’s simpler [than The Scottish Play] because I don’t have to come up with a different physicality for each character, but I do have to discover how Romeo is different. And to make it even more nuanced, to find out how he is different from me.

What have you found? How is he different from you?
He speaks his mind. Romeo is somebody who, in a way, doesn’t have a censor. It’s either his sense of beauty or love, but everything is so much that he can’t contain it and his heart is going to explode. Or the flipside, when his despair is so great that his heart’s going to implode. But he can’t ever just say ‘nothing’ about it. That’s a big thing, because I don’t find myself ever having very much to say. And even if I do, I’m hard pressed to talk about it. I think that’s the main thing. What I have that’s similar to Romeo is that I am such a romantic. When I was younger, I had three big books that I used to write in all day. A few lines of poetry would come into my head about my day and I would have to write them down! I relate to his feelings of yearning for love or the beauty in life. His need for love, I guess is what it is. I can relate to that, but everybody can.

Are there any roles you’d like to play in the future?
I would love to play Valentine (Two Gentlemen of Verona) – that’s my audition monologue and I’ve never seen a production. And I would love to play Edgar in King Lear. I love him.

Do you have any thoughts on what you’re doing after Romeo and Juliet?
I don’t really know. I’ve really been focusing on this production. Actually, I kind of vowed not to do any more theater after this project and only do film, but I always make a vow like that at some point and I always come back. This last time I made this vow was in July of last year. I decided I was going to quit acting. But I only lasted six months before I ended up coming back. And I ended up getting this!

So I guess theater is your Rosaline…or maybe your Juliet?
It can be both! I like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “art is a jealous mistress”. I think that’s very true.

JC Vasquez will be playing Romeo in Actors Shakespeare Company at NJCU’s production of Romeo and Juliet from November 5–21, 2010 at the West Side Theater. Tickets are available through

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meet Our Sweets!

By Natalie Lebert

For the Shakespeare fan, Halloween, the season of sugar and spirits, inevitably evokes the character of Mercutio who rhapsodizes in Romeo and Juliet about the nightly comings and goings of Queen Mab, our favorite faeries’ midwife.

…She gallops night by night
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are

Plaguing ladies with blisters because their breath is scented with the odor of candy? Ouch. Steady on Mercutio – many of us like candy. In fact, the ladies of ASC at NJCU would like to take this opportunity to speak on behalf of their favorite sweet…

Colette Rice, ASC at NJCU’s Artistic Director and Play Master for the upcoming productions of Logomaniacs and The Tempest, shared the following: It’s been said to me that you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl. This is certainly true as far as candy is concerned. My sweet tooth comes from my mother, as does my favorite candy. Every Christmas I visit family in northern CA, where Mother and I make an assortment of candies that friends and family drool over. Fudge, English toffee, divinity, peanut brittle… everyone has their favorites. But when the confections are complete, Mother and I package up our homemade delicacies and open her box of See’s chocolates – Nuts & Chews. She almost always has a box of See’s because everyone knows it is her favorite. Last Christmas she had four pounds in the freezer by January 2. Scotch Mallows are her chief weakness, though anything with caramel elicits moans of bliss from both of us. Personally, I have a penchant for the cashew brittle – a salty, sweet delight of crunchy caramel and cashews dipped in velvety white chocolate. See’s is only available in the Western U.S., so it’s a pleasure associated largely with home and family. Maybe that’s why it is such a sentimental favorite. Still, having eaten a lot of chocolate in my time, I can also say it’s some of the finest candy one can buy. Eating it with your mum? Well, that’s just an extra layer of sweetness.

Bethany Reeves, Voice Master for ASC at NJCU and soon to appear as Ariel in ASC at NJCU’s production of The Tempest, was almost unable to choose, but finally settled on “a luscious, rich, dark chocolate filled with creamy caramel. High class. Godiva at the least.”

Denise Hurd has choreographed many a thrilling swordfight during her years with ASC at NJCU. She helmed last season’s reading of Madness in Valencia and will be in charge of Shakespeare’s Queens, an ASC Lab coming your way in February, 2011. Denise’s favorites showcase her artistic bent: “Although I am very [fond of] walnut fudge, especially from Lilac chocolates, I really love Marzipan. I love the taste of almonds and the cool shapes you can twist it into.”

Jessica Myhr will be appearing in ASC’s upcoming Logomaniacs and gets her fix from… “The cupcake - What's not to love about an individual cake with frosting in a cozy little wrapper? The word alone conveys cuteness! My favorite is the red velvet cupcake...much like the yummy roles I play - it is colorful, in a deep red color, and has a rich cream cheese frosting (if done correctly) that is indulgence at its finest. Cake is after all a sweet for queens!”

Jessica Weiss has appeared in several ASC at NJCU main stage productions including last season’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and will be playing Miranda in this season’s production of The Tempest. Jessica broke with our resident chocolate fans, but like Colette, her sweets elicit memories. “Some of my favorites are apple and cherry jolly ranchers, because my grandfather used to carry them in his pockets – we called him the candy man. He passed away when I was eight, that's about all I remember about him.”

Susannah Baddiel, a longtime Company member and part time UK resident, played Titiania in last season’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her preference in sweets carries a distinct across-the-pond bias –go figure. “Favorite candy: Fudge - the English variety, which is confectionary. US fudge is often a hot chocolatey sauce, or chocolate syrup? English fudge is very sweet. Cornish or Devonshire fudge (from the counties of Cornwall and Devon) is the best. Maybe because their milk is so good, which has something to do with the cows, which'll have something to do with the grass...”

Elizabeth Belonzi played Puck in ASC at NJCU’s recent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and serves as the company’s Director of Education. Liz provided what might have been our most unorthodox sweet: Cheese! She explains “since my 30's I have all but lost my taste for sweets. I would much rather order an extra appetizer or, even better, glass of wine then a desert when I go out to dinner. Whenever I tell people that fact, [they think] my lack of sweet tooth is some super power. I think a love of cheese, specifically ‘night cheese’, has replaced sweets as my comfort food.”

There you have it. Sweets (and cheese) vindicated. If you’re sweet on Shakespeare, you can catch Actors Shakespeare Company at New Jersey City University’s production of Romeo and Juliet from November 5–21, 2010 at the West Side Theater. Tickets are available through

Natalie (Nate) Lebert has been an ASC member since 2004, happily crossing the gender divide with roles as Celia (As You Like It) and Banquo/Porter/Lady MacDuff (Macbeth). She has also played Feste (Twelfth Night) and Grumio (Taming of the Shrew) for The Queens Company (

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Enjoy Being a Guy

A few thoughts on the nature and craft of cross-gender acting

By Natalie Lebert

As an actress who finds herself for better or worse often playing men in theater, I am frequently questioned on the “how” of it. How do I manage to play male roles so convincingly? Do I do endless research? Do I spend my days and nights observing and obsessing over the physical characteristics of the male of the species? A hushed pause generally follows while the inquiring mind waits for me to spill my well-honed secrets.

Are you ready? Hang on to your hats. The answer is…no. To all of it. There is no endless research; there is no feverish examination of men (at least not for a job). As it happens, I am one of those women who are ‘blessed’ with a speaking voice that settles in the lower registers. I also tend to be overweight and my largeness apparently gives me a certain brute presence onstage that can read as male. Sorry to disappoint, dear reader, but that’s the extent of my mystery. But do not fear...years of masquerading as the not-so-fair-sex have taught me a thing or two. Allow me to share what I like to call:

A Drive-By Guide to Playing Men Onstage.

Shake What Yo’ Mama Gave You: This is to say, examine your day-to-day behavior for untapped maleness. Check out your physical bearing when you get really angry. Do you try to make yourself bigger and taller? Do you stand with your legs farther apart to give yourself a wider base of support? Guess what? You are being guy-ish! Listen to yourself when you are explaining a subject you know really well. See how your voice lowers? Ok, you don’t sound like James Earl Jones or anything, but truth to tell, most guys don’t either. Rather than beginning by observing men, begin by observing yourself for signs that Mars is far closer to Venus than previously thought.

Pick a Guy, Any Guy: Now that you’ve mined your own behavior for “the man inside”, let’s take a look at some men outside. Watch what body part they lead with when walking (take a guess). Watch how they walk and give it a descriptor. Would you call it purposeful? Striding? Describe it and see if you can embody it. How do their arms hang at their sides? How do they sit? Describe it. Wide? Loose? Describe and then embody it. A director I greatly respect, Rebecca Patterson of The Queens Company, says that gender is based in role playing. You are an actor and it’s a role, play it!

Take It To The Text: What we learn as actors is that what characters say indicates who they are. This holds as true for gender as any other trait. Examine what you have to say as a male and see if there is muscle in it. If you find it, relish it when you have to speak those words. Look for strong sounds, consonants and imagery. See if you find yourself thinking “a girl would never
say that!” You are probably right.

There you have it. My three steps to being a man onstage. Look inside, look outside, look at your words. Be willing to play and give yourself over to being the guy YOU can be. Nobody swaggers like you. Flaunt it!

Natalie (Nate) Lebert has been an ASC member since 2004, happily crossing the gender divide with roles as Celia (As You Like It) and Banquo/Porter/Lady MacDuff (Macbeth). She has also played Feste (Twelfth Night) and Grumio (Taming of the Shrew) for The Queens Company (