Once upon a time, many regional theater troupes shared a dream: Companies of actors performing plays in rotation, with a different show every night.
Few troupes can afford it these days, but the ones that do — such as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, which will have six plays in its repertory this spring — can reap big benefits.
Doing plays in repertory is challenging for everyone involved, especially the actors. For this season at the festival's state-of-the-art facility in Montgomery, a total of 38 actors — and their understudies — will take on multiple roles in six different plays.
Alabama Shakespeare Festival repertory actor Sam Gregory describes the three characters he plays this season:
Listen: Jaques from 'As You Like It' -- A spiritual journey.
Listen: Hortensio from 'The Taming of the Shrew' -- The most uptight person in Padua.
Listen: Henry from 'The Real Thing' -- Learning yourself, through pain...
Actor Sam Gregory, who's been doing repertory theater for about seven years, says he likes the challenge. He will play three very different characters this year — and finds different facets of himself in each.
Hear clips of live performances at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival:
Listen: Sam Gregory as Jaques in a scene from 'As You Like It'
Listen: Sam Gregory as Hortensio woos Bianca in 'The Taming of the Shrew'
Listen: Sam Gregory as Henry in Tom Stoppard's 'The Real Thing'
"All of those sides of you increase your abilities," Gregory says. "Actors all have a comfort zone where they know they can do the roles well — repertory forces you to expand your comfort zone."
Actors, directors, costumes, sets, sound design, lights and props make repertory both expensive and labor-intensive. So why do it? For the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the main reason is the audience. Many drive long distances to see a play. To keep them coming back, the festival is compelled to offer a variety of productions.