In Part 8 of a series of interviews with the cast of Avant Bard’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, meet Jenna Berk..
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on stage?
Jenna: I played the contortionist and straitjacket escape artist Wendy in Stephen Spotswood’s The Last Burlesque, Pinky Swear’s contribution to Capitol Fringe in July/August 2015, and most recently I was a Bad Idea Bear in Constellation Theater Company’s Avenue Q this fall.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Avant Bard?
I’ll always have a soft spot for Midsummer, since it was the first Shakespeare play I ever performed (shoutout to Ms. Rowland’s fourth-grade class at Taylor Elementary!). I’ve also admired Randy and Deb’s work at Rorschach Theatre, so I jumped at the chance to collaborate with them.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to her?
I play Hermia, one of the lovers. Besides being of diminutive stature, we share a fiery temper and a love of classical references.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?
Learning that authority figures aren’t always right and sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. Possibly literally.
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?
Having just come off of another show that incorporated puppets, it’s fantastic to learn a completely different style of puppeteering. I’m more involved in the percussion orchestra, and it’s such a great chance to add to other actors’ scenes, whether it’s mood music or a well-timed hit with a mallet. It has really cemented the ensemble feel of the show.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
Someone else: Ugh, there are too many amazing lines (and line readings) to pick just one. I’ll go with Snug’s lion speech. Can’t go wrong there.
What are you doing next on the stage?
I’ll be understudying Folger Theatre’s world premiere of Aaron Posner’s District Merchants (a variation on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice), May 31 to July 3rd. Exciting stuff!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Shakespeare is for everyone! And you don’t want to come up against me in a dark alley.
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 Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 7: Toni Rae Salmi.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsumer Night’s Dream’ Part 8: Jenna Berk.
Robert Michael Oliver reviews A Midsummer Night’s Dream on DCMetroTheaterArts.