In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of Avant Bard’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, meet Zach Brewster-Geisz.
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on stage?
Zach: Among other places, I’ve recently been at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, Midsummer), Pallas Theatre Collective (Code Name: Cynthia, She Stoops to Conquer), and Source Festival (a love story), Perfect Arrangement). Also, if they’re into some late-night Maryland Public Television, they may have seen me in countless reruns of a documentary about the War of 1812.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Avant Bard?
Well, Avant Bard (then called Washington Shakespeare Company) was actually one of the first places I auditioned in DC, way back in 1998; for those keeping score, yes, it took them almost two decades to hire me. But I also wanted to work with Randy Baker, whose work I’ve long admired. And, of course, Midsummer is one of my favorite plays of all time.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him?
I play Bottom, one of the “rude mechanicals” who perform a play at Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding. Bottom is a loud, stupid, and very bad actor who tries to upstage everyone else in the play. So, typecasting, basically. Actually, I find Bottom, as clueless as he is, to be completely charming. He’s so convinced that he, and his friends, are the greatest thing since sliced bread, I can’t help but be won over by his enormous, if misplaced, confidence. It’s something I wish I had more of, in truth.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?
A heroic group of laborers discover their inner artists, and in the process save the Duke and his retinue from the clutches of boredom. There’s something about a dream in there, too.
Director Randy Baker has reimagined the show with shadow puppets and a percussion orchestra. For you as a performer, what’s new and different about it, and what are you enjoying about it?
I’m lucky in that I’m playing one of the few characters who gets to exist in both the real and shadow worlds. It’s been quite a challenge to make sure both my body and my puppet are playing the same character. I’m absolutely loving the wonderful work Alex Vernon has done designing the puppets. They are a joy to work with! The coolest thing, though, is the way the concept has actually illuminated the text in new ways. Far too often, I find people will “bolt on” something they think is cool for Shakespeare and call it a day. That’s not the case here—the notion of shadows is actually really well supported and a beautiful way of thinking of the fairies.
What is your favorite line that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
My favorite Bottom line is “I can gleek upon occasion” because I love the word “gleek.” (For those not up on Early Modern English, it means “make a pointed joke.”)
As for other people’s lines—man, there are so many contenders—but I guess I’d have to go with Puck’s final couplet: “Give me your hands, if we be friends/And Robin shall restore amends.” Best curtain call line ever.
What are you doing next on the stage?
I’ll be a guest artist at Montgomery College’s production of The Firebugs by Max Frisch. I play Beidermann, a man who invites a couple of serial arsonists into his home, and then flatters and waits upon them in hopes that they won’t burn his house down. It opens in April.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Any trash, newspapers, or personal belongings they brought with them when entering the theatre.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays from January 14 to February 7, 2016, at Avant Bard performing at Guston Arts Center – Theatre Two – 2700 South Lang Street, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 418-4808, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 1: Annalisa Dias.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 2: Jon Jon Johnson.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 3: Zach Brewster-Geisz.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 4: Linda Bard.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 5: Daven Ralston.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 6: Christian R. Gibbs.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsumer Night’s Dream’: Part 7: Toni Rae Salmi.
Robert Michael Oliver reviews A Midsummer Night’s Dream on DCMetroTheaterArts.