A few months after receiving my MFA in acting from NYU, I was cast as Hermia in the Public Theater’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by A.J. Antoon. Of course I have no objectivity, but I believe it was a very special production. It was certainly special to me, as it was with this production that I earned my Actors’ Equity card.
The production was set in Brazil, with a live band and choreography by the great Garth Fagan. Before our first performance Carl Lumbly (Oberon) initiated a cast gathering backstage. It was a very large cast and we created a huge circle – the Lovers, the Mechanicals, the Fairy World, all together for one brief moment. We continued to do this before every single performance for the next four months. Sometimes someone had a plan for a gathering or an announcement to make, and sometimes we just stood there together for a few moments, but it was always a joyful, willing gathering of all. A regular reminder that we were about to do something special – together.
Lorraine Toussaint (Titania), knowing that this was my first gig, warned me that this was very rare and I should not expect it in future jobs. I’ve never experienced it since.
Being my first professional show, my Equity initiation fee was gradually being deducted from my paycheck. The day it was finally paid off and I was officially a member of Equity, I proudly announced it at that night’s gathering and everyone cheered. It was a meaningful entrance, appropriately shared with talented and supportive collaborators, into a profession I continue to love.