“The Tug of War” by Matt Garner

Matt Garner

by actor Matt Garner

Matt Garner plays four characters in The Making of a King, including Warwick in Henry IV and the Dauphin in Henry V.

Early in my acting career, Shakespeare presented itself as this distant, intellectual quagmire – a party for smart people, to which I was not invited. I didn’t understand it, couldn’t appreciate its beauty and consequently began to loathe it. Any exposure to it left me feeling ostracized and ignorant.

Then I saw Propeller Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night at BAM in Brooklyn and the wall between me and the beauty of Shakespeare’s words came crashing down. I was enthralled. The language seemed so current, so effortless. Yet, the words were still Shakespeare’s, still 400 years old.

The truth is, Shakespeare becomes increasingly accessible in the hands of artists who lean into the storytelling (which is timeless) while preserving the rhythm and structure of the language. Since-retired PlayMakers vocal coach, Bonnie Raphael, called this the “tug-of-war.”

As actors in The Making of a King, it’s our job to live in this tug-of-war, balancing the elevated text with the need of the story. So many of our guest artists and company members are masters of this balance, and as a graduate student, it’s a great opportunity to learn from them and hopefully steal a few tricks.

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The Making of a King: Henry IV and Henry V runs January 28 to March 4. Click here for more information and tickets.

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