Lowell Byers (MFA '15) on table work with acclaimed director Mark Lamos

(from left) Lowell Byers as Thurio, Mark Pinter as Duke, and Adam Kantor as Proteus in Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Mark Lamos, at The Old Globe. Photo by Jim Cox.

One of the strengths to the Old Globe MFA program is that it preaches a text first approach to acting. My favorite part of the rehearsal process has always been the table work. At the commencement of rehearsal, it allows the actor and director an early chance to converse. The text is at the forefront and the artists can throw out any ideas, play with line meanings, and track the character’s overall path.

My first experience with renowned Broadway director and Tony Award nominee Mark Lamos was incredibly enlightening. Two Gentleman of Verona is not as commonly produced as a Hamlet, Othello, Romeo & Juliet, or Macbeth and is considered one of Shakespeare’s less compelling works. However, Mark held the opinion that the more he read it, the more he discovered and the more engaging it actually became.

Mark informed us that the play deals with very young love. Teenage love. Perhaps a Romeo with Rosaline as opposed to Romeo with Juliet. Going along with that idea of young love, it also deals with childish behavior. Being very fortunate to play the role of Turio in the production, he is your prime example of a character that consistently behaves childishly when he does not get what he wants.

This play also has quite a few foreshadowing elements of Shakespeare’s later works. Launce shares similarities to a Falstaff, Proteus to a love struck Romeo, and the outlaw scenes in the forest to those like scenes in As You Like It. Two Gentleman of Verona is our early Shakespeare, testing the waters and sharpening his dramatic tools for greats to come.

With what I have learned in the program, combined with Mark’s guidance, I look forward to being part of a production at the Globe that will be enjoyable for all.

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