There is an old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. In a way, BCSC like to think that it takes a 21st century village to create a theatre company. Rich in diversity, experience, not lacking for talent and open minded to all possibilities. When it comes to casting there is no sense of the ‘traditional or formal’, it’s about creating stories with the talent and experience within the company of actors.
“I try and keep to the principle to cast on talent and, what we can build from that, after all that’s all part of the ensemble.” Quotes Ross MacDonald, Artistic Director. “When Eric and I took over the reins, it was clear the company needed to refocus and reenergize. We decided to concentrate our efforts on a Performance in Education program, as it was a mutual passion and something we believed should be the cornerstone of the company moving forward.”
Eric Joseph and Ross MacDonald met over a production of ‘Noises Off’, MacDonald as a director and Joseph a last minute replacement for the role of Selsdon. “It was a happy accident, how we met, but returning to BCSC was the furthest thing from my thoughts.” MacDonald adds.
“Once we decided on a strategy, Eric wanted me to assemble a team that could help us achieve our goal. I was lucky that I had a list of actors who I knew I wanted to work with, and just hope they would reciprocate.”
MacDonald a former soldier and veteran of Afghanistan knew that the right team of actors were needed for the task.
“You know it’s funny that when you have this opportunity, you want to create a talented team that can do the job, and that you’ll enjoy working with through the process. I don’t think about gender, or race, or sexual identity, I genuinely think okay we have this melting pot, and let’s see what we can create. I have a vision a story to tell but I don’t need to limit myself to the traditional or with one particular look in mind. It’s equality in action. Look I am not comfortable saying look how diverse we are, we have women playing roles originally meant for men, or we have gay actors, or a black actor playing MacBeth, and as a Scot I love that!”
“Look we have Raisa Hoffman playing Malcolm in MacBeth as a woman, it seems quite easy to make Malcolm a Queen, after all I served a Queen and in this version I believe it helps in several ways. Not once have any of the students questioned this choice!”
But all this is only the tip of the iceberg, a long serving member of The Bay Colony Shakespeare Company, is Alexander Munoz. A trans-gender actor playing his roles for the most part as trans-gender characters.
“Ross phoned me and was like do you have a problem with us talking about my identity, and I was like, no, it’s very important that I talk about my identity.”
“Alex and I have worked together for a number of years, and I admit for a long while I had no idea about his identity and of course I struggled to grasp this, and the truth is, playing his characters that are closer to who Alex actually is, the work is very very good.”
MacDonald admits that he struggled with Alex’s identity, and yet over the last few months, though not ever being against these issues, he is, in his own words.
“Gosh I am a lot more sensitive about it, far more understanding, and personally I am honored that Alex is comfortable not only being who is, but sharing it on stage. Thing is we aren’t trying to do it as a gimmick, but as I said before it’s simple, Alex is free to be who is and we are enriched by this. We live in a new age, and students in any schools can’t be sheltered from this, and if it at least makes these students aware of what it actually means on stage as a character in Shakespeare, then well I think it’s another part of what makes our company rather special. After all, we are rather special.”
A special village?
“Oh I hope so, maybe one day a city.”
On a hill?
“One day if we are lucky, one day.”
The Diverse creation of the new Bay Colony Shakespeare Company.