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CHICAGO PREMIERE

Shakespeare
in Love

April 15

June 18, 2017

at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

based on the screenplay by Marc Norman + Tom Stoppard
adapted for the stage by Lee Hall
directed by Rachel Rockwell

Interview with the Director

Darcy Rose Coussens interviews Jeff Award winner Rachel Rockwell for Theatermania

DARCY ROSE COUSSENS: What brought you to Chicago?

RACHEL ROCKWELL: I went to the University of Evansville in Indiana, and you either went to New York or Chicago after graduating. I decided to give Chicago a shot - I liked that it had a really good balance of straight theater and musical theater, so I came and was really fortunate to get work right away. Although I have lived in New York and Los Angeles, I come back here. This is the place that speaks to me the most and where I like living the most. It's a great place to live and make art.

DRC: It's interesting, I keep hearing that what's important in choosing to live in Chicago is enjoying living here and that it's a good community of theater artists.

RR: Oh yeah, the community is unlike any other. I not only make art with these people, we raise our kids together. It's really been fun to watch my friends go from us all being in shows together to us being parents now. I think the artistic scene is getting better and stronger here. There's more and more work!

DRC: I've seen some of your work both as a director and a choreographer. Did you start out working more in one role, or have you always been interested in both?

RR: I got work as a choreographer first, but I think I've always been a director. I can't separate the way I look at a piece of work. It's always been through a director's eyes. My first professional opportunities were as a choreographer, but I directed my first Equity show when I was 22, which is kind of ridiculous. It was an accident! I filled in for somebody who dropped out, although I was already choreographing. It was a movement-based show, so it made sense to do that. So I think that was a natural part of my professional evolution. And I was really lucky to get opportunities.

DRC: When you went to school, were you focusing on acting or were you also focusing on directing there?

RR: I choreographed a ton of student things, and I did a bunch of directing projects in school, but we didn't have a directing major. We had a BFA, and I was a performer. So my emphasis was performing, but believe me, any opportunity I had to direct or choreograph anything, I took it!

DRC: That's actually one thing I love about Northwestern - student theater here is really great and there's just so much of it. I think what we're doing in class is so important, but we also get to try everything outside of classes.

RR: Yeah, that's critical. You need to experience every discipline - I think, anyway - if you're going to be a good director: to understand what you're asking of people, how to speak to people, to educate yourself in all design disciplines. I think it's really important to have a little bit of street cred and to know what you're talking about. Plus, it's fascinating to me. Part of the reason why I like being a director is because I like creating a complete world, and every bit of that is interesting to me.

 

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in Love

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