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Work and Play

by Laura J. Parker, Guiderius in Cymbeline

My first acting gig was in high school, in the heady days of the early 1990’s when city government officials thought it was perfectly reasonable to allow high school students complete access to the local cable access TV station and all of it’s equipment.   A small group of Breakfast-Club-esque social misfits, we created a sketch comedy show that revolved around a ‘Knight Rider’ parody series.   I played the nasal, heavily-Boston-accented girlfriend of the series’ hero—and later got locked in a studio and was “forced” to watch our own show in a MST3K-style parody.  The show was ridiculous and full of in-jokes and silly flubs, and we loved every minute of it.  We had the chance to create and to play, and it was glorious.

Fast forward to 2009: I was terrified of a public speaking assignment for graduate school, so I enrolled in an improv class to knock the rust off of my public speaking skills.  That class jump-started my love of performing, and I soon found myself performing improv on a regular basis.  A few years later I auditioned for a play and started doing scripted work.

What delights me about theatre is that, at its core, it’s all about telling stories.  We share so many thoughts and feelings and experiences as human beings, and a good play will help the audience look at those experiences with new eyes.  Working with a dedicated group of storytellers to share these experiences with the public is a beautiful, joyous, humbling experience—we all bring our own worldviews into the rehearsal process and end up creating something that’s bigger and bolder than we thought it could be.  And that’s pretty amazing.

Playing Guiderius in Cymbeline has truly been a rewarding experience.  Although I’ve done Shakespeare in the past, this has been my first Sweet Tea show, and it was so beautifully positive.  The STS family is warm, open, accepting, and encouraging—and above and beyond that, their approach to Shakespeare is truly FUN.  Even though these texts are 400 years old, the fundamental emotional stories still resonate, and STS works hard to bring out the emotional core for the audience.  In between all the hard work, STS isn’t afraid to PLAY—to find the joy and the wit and the humor that is within the words.  It’s been a joy exploring this little-produced play and finding the fun! STS gifts its actors with the freedom to create, to explore, and to dream, and I’m so grateful to have been able to share in that experience with this remarkable group of people.  Much love!

Jen Czechowski

Master of Market at Sweet Tea Shakespeare