Matt Russell, guest actor playing The Bard in Verona Walls most has recently played in Cymbeline (Here and Now Theater), Much Ado About Nothing (Public Theater/NYSF), Some Freaks (film). We’re excited to have him play The Bard. Here’s what he says about it.
Matt Russell is The Bard
Q. Tell us a little about The Bard, what’s he like?
A. The Bard is a musical storyteller, and so he facilitates the telling of this story. At the same time, he’s observing the events as they play out. We’ve discussed the possibility that he’s observing with an acute purpose, because he’s working on another story of his own, which will eventually become Romeo and Juliet. One of the many wonderful things Laura has done is weave the plot of Verona Walls together with the overlapping story of R&J, and there are plenty of “Easter Eggs” for the audience, and The Bard, to discover along the way.
Q. What attracted you to the role?
A. The Bard is unique because the role didn’t exist when I auditioned for the play last fall. Laura added him during rewrites (lucky for me) and he continues to grow with every rehearsal! When Laura and DeLisa discussed the new role with me, I was very intrigued, because I love playing music and was excited about the possibility of helping to shape this world. And I was obviously already attracted to the work, so I had a certain amount of faith that Laura would create something juicy. So far so good!
Q. What do you see as the biggest challenge of being The Bard in this piece?
A. The biggest challenge is also the biggest joy: the role is evolving as we work. I tend to find that freedom exciting, but I suppose it also comes with a certain amount of “I better figure out what the Bard is doing here, why he needs to be here.” Because The Bard is often present without being directly involved in the dramatic action, I have to create my own dramatic action. Fortunately DeLisa is there to share that burden, and her suggestions have already opened doors in a big way.