There were no lights, props or costumes, and the audience consisted largely of curious passersby. But with a few choice words, a small patch of Boston Common transformed into a Shakespearean production.
“All right, everyone—let’s go to Italy,” said Adam Sanders, the artistic associate for the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s production of “All’s Well That Ends Well.”
His cue kicked off a morning rehearsal for actors in the Boston Common production of the comedy. They included members of a summer apprentice program—hosted this year by Northeastern University—who fill ensemble roles in the play, act as understudies for major roles and take daily courses with some of Boston’s top theatre professionals.
Summer apprentices also present a collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets and excerpts from his plays across Boston. Performances of this series—known as “Shakespeare on Love”— include one this Saturday on Boston Common.
Third-year theatre major Daniel Belford is among the more than 20 young actors in the apprenticeship program, which is directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman, an assistant professor of theatre at Northeastern.
“I’m really new to doing Shakespeare, but you’re just thrown into it here,” Belford said. “It’s such a great experience to work with such seasoned actors, directors and professionals.
“As an ensemble member, I only have one or two lines,” he explained. “But every night I think to myself that I have the best seat in the whole house.”
The apprenticeship gives Northeastern theatre graduate Vivian Yee, AMD’11, a chance to test the skills she honed on co-op. Yee is serving as a program coordinator for the “All’s Well” production.
Yee said, “They were looking for professionals, and it turned out I had just enough professional experience from my co-ops at theaters during my time at Northeastern.”
The program not only gives actors access to some of the nation’s top theatre experts, it offers them an opportunity to think seriously about their careers, Ocampo-Guzman said.
“This whole program gives firsthand experience in the professional world,” he explained. “It serves as both a reality check and an inspirational look at what these actors could be doing down the line in their professional career. They realize what making theatre is really about.
“This is not your high-school production. This is an entirely different game.”