In rehearsal with John Dreher


By John Dreher, Cliff 
John is a 2013 MFA candidate in the Professional Acting Training Program at UNC-Chapel Hill 

Cabaret is based on Christopher Isherwood’s memoir Goodbye to Berlin. The opening sentence describes Cliff and the part he plays in this whirlwind of a story, “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.”


Throughout the rehearsal process, I have played with the idea of what a camera is. What does it do? It is a giant eye hunting for stories to tell and uncovering them in minute details. Once these are captured they help give us an odd sense of belonging. We discover who we are and where we fit in based on the lives and stories of others. This is the foundation of Cliff. He is a man that doesn’t belong in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and goes seeking for where he fits on this earth. He finds incredible humanity and kindness in a place that, as he puts it, is “the end of the world.” He’s the lens through which the audience can experience this world.


The challenge for me as actor is how to be that camera, very passive and still very actively live in this strange, wonderful place. I took a trip to Harrisburg to aid in this challenge. I found where Cliff’s family would have lived and walked the streets where he grew up. Discovering where he came from helped incredibly to figure out why he went to Berlin. 

All of this would be for naught if it weren’t for the commitment and embodiment of the human spirit that this cast has brought.  They create this world that Cliff is thrust into so beautifully that all I have to do is breathe and speak.


It’s a truly beautiful journey and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Brett Bolton (Left) and John Dreher (Right) rehearsing a scene
Photo taken by Michaela Morton