Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Brian Walker. All rights reserved.
Meg Caudill is a delightful and passionate theatre artist who is no stranger to the audiences of Louisville and is a big fan of the classics, particularly Shakespeare. She’s done shows with most of the independent theatres in town, including Looking for Lilith, Pandora Productions, Finnigan Festival, Alley Theatre, LRC, The Bard’s Town and Savage Rose. She also performs with Walden Theatre’s touring troupe and just finished a tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to area elementary schools. She’s currently rehearsing for a production of A Winter’s Tale to be performed at Josephine Sculpture Garden this June.
Brian Walker: Meg, I’ve got 17 questions for you if you’re game?
Meg Caudill: Yes! Thank you so much for thinking of me!
BW: Great. Current project first. Number 1. What role are you performing in A Winter’s Tale?
MC: I’m playing Paulina, a gentlewoman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believes is right.
BW: Number 2. For folks not familiar with it, what is Josephine Sculpture Park and how does Shakespeare figure in?
MC: Josephine Sculpture Park opened to the public in 2009 and is named after the founder’s grandmother. The reclaimed farmland has 20 acres to explore and over 35 works of art on display by artists from all over the world. It’s open to the public every day of the year from dawn ‘til dusk and it’s a great place to bring a picnic and just wander around discovering the sculptures. They also have festivals and activities throughout the year and people can check out upcoming events on their website:http://www.josephinesculpturepark.org/ I know they’re hosting a free percussion concert on June 1st at 2:00pm. (info available on the Josephine Sculpture Park Facebook page) Josephine’s Shakespeare Summerstage began in 2010, when Kathi E.B. Ellis and Melanie VanHouten (the artistic director and founder of JSP) worked together to produce an all-female production of Macbeth that was staged around a sculpture called “The Crucible.” Each summer since then, they have chosen a sculpture that speaks to the aesthetic of the park and that summer’s play and then staged the play around the sculpture.
BW: We brought a picnic last summer and were just so impressed not only with the production, but the grounds really are something special. Number 3. What’s been the most challenging thing about rehearsing this play so far?
MC: This is my fourth summer with Josephine Summerstage and we learn so much every year! The cast consists of actors from Lexington, Frankfort, Shelbyville, and Louisville so getting everyone in the same location at the same time can be difficult but thanks to the wonders of technology, we’ve been able to Skype actors into rehearsals. Sometimes we’ve even gone so far as to place the laptops or tablets on chairs or music stands so the rest of the cast can get an approximation of where the character is.
BW: Number 4. What’s the best and the worst thing about performing outdoors?
MC: Best Thing: I absolutely love being in the park as the sun is setting and hearing the sounds of nature all around us. The audiences have been so wonderful, too! When you look out at the audience and see kids sitting near the edge of the performance space with their faces upturned to watch the story, or the families enjoying spending time together under the stars, or perhaps that one familiar face that is in the audience night after night, then it just reaffirms why we do what we do. We share these stories for the benefit of others. Worst Thing: I’ve joked that the two things you can see from outer space are the Great Wall of China and the blinding glare of the sun off my pasty white skin. Needless to say, I use a LOT of sunscreen and bug spray during rehearsals and performances!
BW: Number 5. What is your favorite Shakespeare play and why?
MC: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I have so many! Alright, if I have to pick just one, I’m leaning towards Twelfth Night. It was the first two person touring show I did when I worked with Kentucky Shakespeare and I loved it! Viola and Olivia are two of my favorite Shakespearean females (although in our two person tour, my tour partner played Olivia – which was hilarious). And poor Malvolio! Who can resist a man in yellow stockings, cross-gartered?
BW: I know I’ve never been able to. Number 6. You do theatre for young audiences too, what’s your favorite thing about performing for kiddos?
MC: I just finished a five-person tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Walden Theatre and most of our performances were for kids in grades K-3. Sometimes adults tend to shy away from Shakespeare and say it’s too difficult to follow but these kiddos were right there with us every single time, leaning forward and responding to the scenes. I love it when you can hear the reactions to the kids, because they’re right there with you in the moment. They would console me when I was Hermia and was sad because Lysander left me for Helena, or warn me when I was asleep as Titania and Oberon was about to put the love potion on me. At the end of our performance Oberon and Titania reappear to bless the households and as Oberon says, “Trip away, make no stay, meet me all by break of day,” we stand atop two blocks and freeze in our final pose. In our very last performance I heard the entire row of kiddos in front of me whisper, “Oh my gosh! They look just like statues!” You never know what’s going to come out of the mouths of the kiddos, but performing for them has definitely made me a better actor. Kids are perhaps the toughest critics because they can tell if you’re not giving an honest performance and they will definitely call you on it!
BW: Number 7. What’s your dream role you haven’t gotten to play yet but want to?
MC: Hmmmm…that’s one of those questions where I could have told you immediately until you asked me, and now… my mind has gone blank. I tend to lean toward classical pieces so perhaps Medea, or Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. I’ll sheepishly admit that I’m not as up to date on contemporary pieces but I wouldn’t say no if the right role came around.
BW: Number 8. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to break into the local theatre community?
MC: We have so many local theatres that there is almost always a show happening somewhere. There’s pretty much something for everyone from musicals to classics to new works. Get out there and see what’s being performed. Introduce yourself, see if there’s any way you can help be involved with ushering or run crew. Check out local auditions and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get cast immediately. I was so nervous during my first audition here in Louisville that I’m pretty sure I did everything wrong but I survived it and worked up my courage to attend other auditions and I’m so glad I did.
BW: Number 9. What about the other facets of theatre-making? Any aspirations to direct or write?
MC: Oh gosh, so a few years ago while I was working at the zoo’s Halloween Party I started sharing my thoughts on moments that stood out to me and over the years its developed into an annual list of Meg’s Memorable Moments. I never realized how many people actually read those until I would forget to list them or I would see someone and they would tell me how much they looked forward to those posts. Maybe I should blog? I enjoy writing but I don’t know that I necessarily have what it takes to be able to create a play. If I ever decide to do so, would you be willing to mentor me?
BW: Most definitely! You should try writing something for young audiences with all of your experience performing for them. I know I always look forward to your zoo posts in October. Number 10. When you’re not doing theatre, what can you most often be found doing?
MC: What DO I do? Judging from the current state of my apartment, general housekeeping is not one of the things I do. If I’m not performing/rehearsing/or teaching theatre workshops in the schools I can usually be found at the Frazier Museum working in the store or admissions. In the summers, though, I work with the Governor’s Scholars Program. I help coordinate the weekly student showcases as well as various and sundry community events throughout the program. This summer will be my 17th year with the program (if you include my year as a scholar) and I always look forward to it.
BW: Number 11. Any aspirations to move out of town, or is Louisville where it’s at?
MC: I love to travel but it’s nice to have somewhere to call home and Louisville is feeling more like home every day. I’m happy to stick around here as long as they’ll let me.
BW: Good! We’ll keep you! Number 12. What is your process for preparing a character? Do you have a consistent process you go through with each one or is it always different?
MC: It varies depending on the role. I do a lot more text-based research with my Shakespearean roles to help figure out my character. Otherwise, I’ll usually read the play a few times prior to rehearsals (if I already have the script) and just see what my gut reaction is to the character. I try to find the parts of me that are also embodied in the character because I feel like it’s important to make those connections. No matter how zany a character is, you can usually find those honest human moments somewhere inside of them. That always makes it more interesting to me.
BW: Number 13. Any famous actor in the world and you get to cast them in a play opposite yourself, who is it, what’s the play and why?
MC: My immediate response is to blurt out, “Cate Blanchett!!!!” I’m a huge fan of pretty much anything she does. I’m also a huge history nerd in regards to anything dealing with Shakespeare or Elizabeth I, so I would love to play opposite Cate in Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart. It’s a play about the last days of Mary, Queen of Scots, and it includes a meeting between Mary and Elizabeth I (something that never happened in the actual history), before Mary is accused of treason and executed. Ordinarily, I would want to be the one playing Elizabeth but if Cate Blanchett is involved, I’m more than happy to let her wear that crown.
BW: Ha! That’s great! Number 14. What’s something most folks would be surprised to learn about you?
MC: After joining my school’s marching band in 6th grade, and serving as field commander all four years of high school, I originally majored in music education and planned on being a band director. I later switched to elementary education with an emphasis in music and taught 4th grade for a few years before going back to grad school. Once I finished grad school I auditioned for Kentucky Shakespeare and was hired as a teaching artist and have been in Louisville ever since.
BW: Number 15. What’s your favorite place to be in the whole city?
MC: I grew up in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky so from time to time I feel the need to just sit outside at the zoo or visit a park and enjoy nature. I spend a lot of time at the zoo, either working special events or just visiting and hanging out with the orangutans.
BW: Number 16. What’s the most important thing for you about being a member of this theatre community?
MC: I still do theatre because I still love it. The day that changes, I’ll stop, but I hope that day never comes. I want to be someone people would want to work with.
BW: Number 17. Who is someone who inspires you and why?
MC: From an acting standpoint – I’m always learning from my cast members and fellow actors. I try to soak it all in like a sponge because I’m surround by so many ridiculously talented people! They continue to inspire me and push me to be the best I can be as an actor. Someone who just inspires me as a person, yes this is going to get sappy, is my mom. She is the most amazing woman I know. I grew up with two older brothers and my mom basically said, “You can do just as much as they can do and don’t let anyone tell you any differently!” She’s always encouraged me to be strong and independent and I’m incredibly grateful to her for that.
See Meg Caudill in:
A Winter’s Tale
June 5-7, 12-14, 2014, 7:00pm
Josephine Sculpture Park
1335 Lawrenceburg Road
Frankfort, KY 40601