I am so excited to share my conversation with Rachel Matusewicz and Bess Miller of Blunt Ensemble with you. First of all, thank you, dear listener, for your patience with me on this episode - the cafe we spoke in was much louder than I'd planned, and there is extra background and city noise in this episode. I encourage you to bear with it and listen to the entire interview; just pretend you're having drinks with us on a hot summer day in The Village in New York.
Blunt Ensemble is currently touring their adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III. A theme we kept coming back to during our conversation was the current political system in the United States versus in Shakespeare's day. Rachel and Bess say it wasn’t intentional for them to have an all-female cast, but once that fell into place they ran with it. We talk about casting the actor with the right energy for the role and the process of filling the shoes of a role that’s already been cast when an ensemble member leaves.
Rachel Matusewicz's headshot (top)
Bess Miller's headshot (bottom)
We talk about gendered language ("actor" vs. "actress" stickiness) and gendered casting. Rachel and Bess both share how they got into Shakespeare; Rachel fell in love with his use of language and storytelling, whereas Bess was exposed to a "mind-blowing" production of Hamlet as a young teen while grappling with the concept of her own mortality and was forever changed. As we continue this thread, the three of us acknowledge our high school English teachers (Ken McGraw and Jackie Laba) for making learning about Shakespeare, language, and theater so engaging.
Blunt Ensemble truly functions like an ensemble, a group of people who are working toward the same story. Rachel and Bess underscore that the energy of an ensemble is crucial, and they relate their group's collaborative style to that of improv.
One of Blunt Ensemble's Richard III shows in Central Park, New York City, in the summer of 2018
Best wishes to Rachel, Bess, and Blunt Ensemble on the future of this project! To learn more about Blunt Ensemble, visit their Facebook, Instagram, and Go Fund Me pages. The cast of Richard III currently includes: Ellie D'Eustachio, Rachel Matusewicz, Bess Miller, Ryan Natalion, Elizabeth Berkman, and Brooke Shilling. The last photo on this blog post is courtesy of Q Gardens in Brooklyn.