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Gig&Tell: The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey

  • A Wonderful Place to Work    
    10/04/2018  11:42am

    I've done a few shows with the Shakespeare Theatre--some outdoor, some indoor--and its truly cozy and wonderful. The talent is amazing (mostly Broadway or high-regional level Eq members doing Shakespeare or classical roles they are MORE than qualified for) and the theatre is not shy about hiring non-eq. They tend to keep their own, i.e. 20-somethings who have done the apprenticeship, and a select few (like 1-3) from each batch will be kept or asked back to do more. Come prepared to work and come well read. A lot of the actors come in off-book.
    I'm a NJ resident so I just commute, but the rehearsal space area is Florham park, which is a little widespread but has everything someone could possibly want. Madison is where the theatre itself is (on the Drew campus) and the area is gorgeous, quiet and charming with mostly some bars and a new escape room. Bagel shops and yoga, etc. Everything is closed by 10, though, despite being a college town. However, if you have a car, you can get to anything you want within a 10 mile radius because its NJ.
    They provide a company car for live-ins and for NYC commuters (courtesy van that picks you up from the train and drives you to Port Authority after each show).
    They provide a LOT OF FOOD and snacks and its cushy--really. The actors are treated with so much respect and care and kindness.
    Some people have gripes with the theatre because of management. Bonnie, the Artistic Director, is one of the most brilliant women I've ever met and had the honor to work with, but there's a reason why shows she isn't directing have "Bonnie runs" (ie. a full run of the show for Bonnie where everyone runs around like chickens with their heads cut off). Her notes are usually brutal (and usually right).
    Money's good for Eq members, but some complain its not enough to support the amount of time commuting or the...I don't know, in every cast there's at least one person who complains.
    If you are blessed to have Brian as a director for your show, you are going to get hands on notes and have an over-the-top gorgeous show like a Broadway show, i.e. Titus Andronicus.
    If your director is Bonnie, the show will be flawlessly put together (very pretty--they tend to hire pretty) but the getting there will be dramatic because at least one person will get screamed at during tech week for an honest mistake, its OKAY pick yourself BACK UP, you will be FINE. It's just because she cares SO SO MUCH and she considers everything she puts her name on (its all over everything). The theatre is her BABY. Its her life. I respect her so much. Get in with the team and you'll keep getting hired back. They pay for all sorts of fun events like full dinners and open bar nights, etc.
    You can earn extra cash if you sign up to drive the van to NYC each night.
    The outdoor theatre has even more involved--it takes place in an open-air Greek amphitheatre on the college of Saint Elizabeth's grounds. They set up an air-conditioned trailer behind fencing for the actors (that the apprentice and intern teams assemble). Its roughing it a lot more out there than it is in an indoor theatre show. Get ready for bugs and SCORCHING HOT Sunday matinees in heavy clothing. They provide sunglasses for the actors, though. The experience is worth it though. It separates the adults for the art from the babies. Its not easy out there or at the theatre by any means, but your time there is what you make it. More than often the shows are gorgeous and the audiences are grey-hairs who have had season subscriptions for 20 years (they also have a lot of opinions). Whatever! You'll love it. I've always had a great time.