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Peakes, Ian Merrill 2010Actor Ian Merrill Peakes (“The Player”) continues sharing his thoughts on the Folger Theatre production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead now in previews. 

Learn more about Ian at the Folger and read his previous posts. 


Hear me loud and clear: I love my job all the time. However…we have a few necessary evils in this loony business of play making.

One of them is the first read, as mentioned two posts ago. Where one tries very hard to tell oneself they don’t have to be good, but one doesn’t usually listen to oneself and the subsequent false need to “be good” can be debilitating.

Then there is the design run where all the designers sit and watch a run of the show. This is usually accompanied by staff and management, and a room that has been devoid of people is suddenly populated with folks who have a keen interest in the product at hand.

The cast and crew of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead". Photo by Teresa Wood.

The cast and crew of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”. Photo by Teresa Wood.

It is a daunting endeavor because, much like the silly need to be good at the first read, it is easy to forget that this is just a rehearsal, just another step toward the ultimate goal. We are actors, after all, and we are trained to perform first and foremost. And placing an audience in front of us…well it has an effect.

Take into account, as well, the designers are there to pay attention to how they will help tell the story and aren’t watching just as a normal audience might. They are thinking about their jobs, as they rightfully should. This sometimes makes for a quiet group. And, as it is very often the first audience, it can add to the disappointment.

Ian Merrill Peakes as The Player. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Ian Merrill Peakes as The Player. Photo by Teresa Wood.

That being said, we had a unique design run – it was super fun! That’s right. Super. Fun. There were probably 20 folks watching, many for the first time, and the room was kind of electric. It felt like a regular old rehearsal run thru. But with lots of response and encouragement. And so, it took the play a step forward, which is what you want every time you do a run. And it is not usually what occurs during a design run.

It helps to have a bunch of funny, smart and talented people in the room, which the Folger always has in every category represented. But, y’all should know, it was pretty damn special and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.

We’re currently in previews – come check us out!