New to the Educational Tour, here is Elyse Edelman playing Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet.

Where did you grow up? Where do you currently live?

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and lived there until I moved to Minneapolis to study at the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program. Since graduating, I’ve hopped around from Minneapolis to Iowa City, Milwaukee, Chicago, and now Cedar City!

Have you ever been involved with Romeo and Juliet before?

I have never been in a production  before, but I have been in love with the play since I first studied it in the 8th grade. I was very lucky to have an English teacher who was incredibly innovative, engaging, and believed that Shakespeare could delight young people.

What are you looking forward to the most about this tour?

Edelman (left) as Benvolio, Klopatek as Romeo and Powell as Mercutio in USF's  touring production of  Romeo and Juliet.

Edelman (left) as Benvolio, Klopatek as Romeo and Powell as Mercutio in USF's  touring production of  Romeo and Juliet.

I love the idea of going into schools and bringing Shakespeare to students who have never experienced him before. I love being part of a company who uniformly adores Shakespeare, but all for unique individual reasons. As a Midwestern girl, I’m excited to travel the great American west and see new places.

What do you hope to contribute or give to young audiences during this tour?

A scene from USF's touring production of Romeo and Juliet.

A scene from USF's touring production of Romeo and Juliet.

The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is the tragedy of youth: its impulsiveness, its substantial immunity to the wisdom and the prejudice of age. The play is incredibly relevant to young people. However, young people are too often introduced to Shakespeare in a scary classroom setting where they succumb to believing Shakespeare is obscure and beyond their understanding; Shakespeare is not meant to only be read. I am honored to be part of something with the potential of turning young people on to Shakespeare. 

What are you hoping to personally learn or achieve?

I am charged about the prospect of playing for a wide range of venues and audiences…from intimate to large, and from small community high school to big city general public. We won’t necessarily understand the space until we actually arrive; this requires learning and adaptability even though the piece remains the same. 

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

I LOVE playing board games and hosting “game nights.”  My favorite games are Apples to Apples, Taboo, Scattergories, and Clue. I play the guitar and harmonica and want to pick up the ukulele while we’re on tour. I listen to a lot of folk music such as Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell.

Why do you think art in general is important?

Growing up, theater taught me more about living than any school lesson did. It gave me the curiosity to comprehend what was beyond my immediate world. It gave me confidence to stand on my convictions and articulate my values. I believe that performance art can teach the importance of compassion in a world where “bullying” exists on all sorts of levels. Art in general is a forum for expression, exploration, and understanding. The arts are languages, which connect a world fractured by racial, cultural, social, and economic barriers.

To learn more or see if the Tour is coming to your city, visit this page on our website-http://bard.org/education/tour.html

All photos by Karl Hugh, copy right Utah Shakespeare Festival