Play On! is the official podcast of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The excerpt transcribed below is from an interview of Dr. Travis Curtright and Mary Curtright about love (both in Shakespeare’s plays and the lives of those who perform his works), their production research process, and what they lovingly call “troupe life.”

(Continued from Part 3)

Emily: Every actor has their methods and are affected in different ways, but does the act of performing Shakespeare have an effect on personal feelings of love specifically for the performer or director?

Dr. Travis Curtright: I don’t think that it does or needs to. I can only speak to my own personal experience here. Playing a role imparts a certain point of view or attitude or character or language that I try to internalize, but that internalization happens on the stage during a performance; it’s like a trance, and eventually return to yourself. 

Mary Curtright: When you asked Travis about the effect on the actor of performing Shakespeare, I thought to myself that you can often see in the students and the actors an effect depending on what kind of character or role they are taking on. I think if they have more of a tragic plot line they are following, it weighs on them a little more; I don’t know if it’s their youth or if they are just throwing themselves into the character, but the more comic characters seem a little jauntier and the ones that are a little sadder seem a little sadder that particular semester. I think it’s noticeable. 

Emily: You notice these things from the students, but you’re not technically a university employee. What is your role in this organization?

Mary Curtright: Shakespeare in Performance started off as an experiment that Travis wanted to do with a class. He would take a Shakespeare class and it wouldn’t just be studying the text or a literature class, he would take a crazy group of kids and put on a show from the ground up from a classroom — just a regular classroom, not a theatre. He would arrange the chairs to simulate the audience on three sides and do it with the lights on and have eye contact and audience interaction, and it was a really rousing success. The audience was astounded that these kids knew the characters and the lines so well; they worked so hard over that semester. Then we just haven’t been able to stop. We have put on shows every year and now we have a theatre. Along the way they have given me the name “Shakesmom” so that’s how I observe what is happening with these kids and am able to see what’s going on in their lives, because they get to talk to me and share what’s going on in their lives. 

Dr. Travis Curtright: Our life and our house have been bound up with this project for years now … we are very happy to have a home at Ave Maria University and to have a brand new blackbox theatre, but we will never forget how wonderful our pioneers, our founding members of the troupe were, and how much hustle they employed to make those productions happen. 

For the full interview, click here