SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

December 20, 2012

Talking Texas with David Coffee

For 20 years, he's played Scrooge at the North Shore Music Theatre -- with no hint of a Texas drawl

(Continued)

What roles have you played?

Feste, the clown in “Twelfth Night,” Capulet in “Romeo and Juliet,” Polonius in “Hamlet.”

Polonius is the one who’s always giving people advice?

I kind of look at him as the Dick Cheney — he didn’t really know what he was doing, but he tried to run everything. They try to even out, with a light show and a darker show each year. It’s really been fun.

Has the festival been well-received?

It’s been a revelation to people down there. The reviews have been amazing, mainly because nobody’s used to seeing Shakespeare done inside, enclosed, with air-conditioning, hearing people talking to each other. Usually you’re outside in a park, people are yelling at each other across the field. They’ve always been beat over the head with it, instead of being able to take it in as conversations.

What do you enjoy about doing Shakespeare?

What’s great about working in Shakespeare: you do have to sit down and do preparation, you can’t just pick it up and start talking. But as you do your research, then you get into your rehearsal and find what other people have learned, because they’ve done their own research. It’s a whole learning experience.

It’s fascinating when you’re reading a speech — what’s that word? — and you start looking it up and you start reading about it. It’s freeing in a way, because we can make up our own mind what this means, since nobody else can make up their mind about it, either.

What is the focus of your productions?

These directors have tried very hard not to come in with a high conceptual idea. The main thing is to tell the stories as clearly as possible, to give the audience a technical piece, with a nice looking set and costumes and all, but not try to remake the wheel.

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