After a July run in The Brick’s “Shakespeare in the Theater” festival, This England is extending for four more performances August 25-28 at our old home, IRT Theater. As we prepare for this second run, we're sitting down with our actors to find out why they love performing Shakespeare, what their favorite moments from the show are, and (most importantly), who they side with in the Wars of the Roses.
First up is Megan Lee. She previously performed with Strange Harbor at IRT as Grushenka and Marfa in Dmitri and the Three Thousand Kopeks. In This England, She plays King Henry V, Queen Margaret, Catesby and Princess Elizabeth.
Strange Harbor: What do you most enjoy about watching and performing Shakespeare?
Megan Lee: Shakespeare is always surprising. There is always an element that you have never heard before no matter how many times you have seen or read a play. That is what is so exciting about This England, it provides a wonderful opportunity to see the grand scope of the story. Being able to zoom out and see the entire arc instead of just the small moments.
SH: Which of your characters do you feel the most connected to? Why?
ML: My two major characters provide a really interesting contrast. Hal is trying to do his best with a job that he never really wanted in the first place. He hits bumps along the way, and you see flashes of who he was throughout, but at the end of his arc, he is a grown man instead of a boy, but still inescapably human and flawed. Hal is the character I worked the hardest on "getting into his skin."
Margaret however-- she and I melded instantly. There was no need to "understand" why Margaret did or said the things she does. To me, it's just a natural extension of myself in those situations. I have no doubt that if I were saddled with the challenges that Margaret faces that I would rise up in much the same way. I've been saying it from the beginning of rehearsal, R3 and the rest of the Yorks wouldn't have gotten far if Margaret had been king.
SH: Do you have a favorite line or moment in the play?
ML: Crispin's Day has become a personal favorite-- especially when Shannon [Stowe, as Lancaster] and I lock eyes during that speech. There's something electric there that I love and her energy spurs me on to rouse everyone else.
Also, Margaret calling Richard about 8000 names. I even wrote out the rest of it in my mind in case I don't get cut off right away. It's slightly less Shakespearean, but it's so fun.
SH: What has been the hardest challenge in working on this play?
ML: The massive amount of text. I never stop talking!
SH: York or Lancaster?