Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed in the park? How about in front of a historical monument? The chance to check both these off your list returns this summer with Shakespeare in Detroit. The nonprofit theatre company presents the works of Shakespeare in an innovative way with live productions at parks, venues and historical structures around the city.   

The theatre company also has a youth program that teaches aspiring young actors the art of Shakespeare. “Detroit Performs: Live From Marygrove” host and One Detroit contributor Satori Shakoor spoke with Evan Parrish, an actor in the theatre’s youth program.  

Shakespeare in Detroit youth theatre program

Shakespeare in Detroit youth actor Evan Parrish (left) performs in the company’s unique version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” | Photo by One Detroit

Parrish talks about how he got involved with Shakespeare in Detroit and why other young people should get involved if they’re interested in a career in theater. Plus, he shares more about the role he plays in the youth theatre’s contemporary version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the joy he gets from acting and entertaining an audience, and what he’s learned through Shakespeare in Detroit.  

Plus, see a preview of the theatre’s “Macbeth” performance on “Detroit Performs: Live From Marygrove.” Shakespeare in Detroit performances will take place at Campus Martius Park this summer. 

Full Transcript:

Satori Shakoor, @satori_10: It’s my pleasure to be sitting here with Evan Parrish, one of the actors in the youth program. Hi, Evan. 

Evan Parrish, Actor, Shakespeare in Detroit Youth Program: Hello. 

Satori Shakoor: So, what role are you playing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? 

Evan Parrish: In Midsummer, I was playing the role of Lysander. Who in this adaptation was like a nerdy, geeky kid, who had the heart of, like, one of the other popular girls at school. And in this role, I got to explore a lot of physicality. I consider myself a very physical actor, and I tend to find any opportunity I can to use physical comedy. And so, with this role, I got to take that just so very far. There are so many scenes where I got to just look absolute, like almost cartoonish with my mannerisms, and the way I walked, and talked, and pose and whatnot. 

Satori Shakoor: What have you learned? 

Evan Parrish: I have learned mainly to investigate words more. Whenever reading in class, like ELA or one of my first classes, Introduction to Theater. It’s almost second nature to look for literary devices, metaphors, similes, things like that. And it allows me to have a better understanding of English in general in the nuances of different words. 

Satori Shakoor: So, what would you say to youth like yourself who wanted to act or have an outlet for their creativity? How would you tell them to be part of this? 

Evan Parrish: Don’t be afraid to look a fool. As crazy as that sounds, the whole point of theater is making yourself look one way or another to give other people a show in some kind of joy, or evoke some kind of emotion. One of the biggest things I think holds people back from going into theater is they’re afraid of looking dumb onstage. But that’s kind of the whole reason why you’re there. You’re entertaining. And eventually, if you let go of that and you see the joy that your performance brings other people, you’ll get that same joy like, Wow, I did that. I made someone smile today, or laugh today, or cry today, or something like that. 

Satori Shakoor: And in your view, what is the greatest contribution of Shakespeare in Detroit? 

Evan Parrish: Inspiration. Without Shakespeare Detroit, I don’t think I would have fallen in love with acting the way that I have. And I know a lot of people that I go to school with that can say the same. Yeah, inspiration. Giving people something that they want to pursue. Whether it would be performing on stage, or trying tech, lights and props backstage, inspiring people to do things that they may have never even thought of doing before. 

Satori Shakoor: Any last words? 

Evan Parrish: Tell someone that you love them today. 

Satori Shakoor: It’s been a pleasure sitting here Evan Parrish from the Youth Conservatory of Shakespeare in Detroit. And now, we’re going to the stage to see a performance from the professional company of Shakespeare in Detroit. 

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