Then and Now Interviews – Mercutio

Robert Sieg 

Mercutio 2005 Cast

After school and CB Productions, I spent a few years in real estate in the Twin Cities and performed Shakespeare readings from time to time. In 2012, I got motivated to immerse myself in the Chinese culture and language and I moved to Ningbo, China. Here, I am pursuing a career in manufacturing and international trade and preparing to open my own American cuisine restaurant in the near future.

I think everyone gets something different out of theater, depending on their life and personality. Being a shy introvert, theater challenged me to overcome some of my fears of large groups of people, public speaking and performing. I’ve gone on to do some speaking/lecturing in my professional life and some of the techniques I learned in theater still help today. On a deeper level, I think there’s a very human need inside us all to create, explore, and tell stories. Theater satisfies this desire by allowing performers to create a character, explore the psychology of their minds and the world they inhabit, and then live their story in each performance. I wish there was something else in life that stretches my creative talents like that but I haven’t found it yet.

List all the CBP shows you were involved in. List any other theater experiences you have had since participating.

CB Productions

  • Anne of Green Gables (2004) – Tech team
  • Little Women (2004) –  Father March
  • Romeo and Juliet (2005) – Mercutio
  • Miracle Worker (2005) – Captain Keller
  • Peter Pan (2006) – Hook/Mr Darling
  • Wuthering Heights (2010) – Hindley/Joseph

 

American Shakespeare Repertory 

  • Hamlet (2009) – Rosencrantz
  • The Merchant of Venice (2010) – Antonio

 

What is one of your favorite memories of being in Romeo and Juliet?

One of the great things about performing Mercutio is that it’s a really intensive first three acts. Then (spoiler) you get to die, and after that you sit back and enjoy the final two acts until curtain call. We had a small balcony in that space from where we could watch above the audience and it was really enjoyable to see the rest of the play unfold. By the end of Act 5 the theater was quiet as a tomb, and everyone came out with candles, which made the scene really spooky. Watching it every night from up there was really special.

 

Describe the character you played in the show and list some characteristics of your character that you admired.

I remember us taking Mercutio in a really bombastic direction – very showy, exaggerated, temperamental, manic. I played him, as I did most characters with CB Productions, with a lot of pre-planned physicality that made him look really unique, but unfortunately also showed up in my performance as body tension and stiltedness. There was a very valuable lesson I learned in a much later production (Wuthering Heights) that I wish I had learned before R&J. Carla taught me how to lose the tension in my muscles and become more fluid and natural with my movements on stage, and I think would have made the flamboyant Mercutio a lot easier to handle, and more believable on stage. Still, I got one of the best stage exits ever!

 

What were the challenges you faced when performing in Romeo and Juliet?

I remember thinking at the time R&J was a real “growing up” moment for CB Productions. Compared to what we had done in previous years this was a new level of maturity demanded of us, young actors. It was a new space (Mounds Theater on Hudson Road) with a lot of acoustic and technical challenges, and our first time putting on performances for more than one week. The play itself, of course, is quite heavy. Themes of violence, suicide, familial loyalty, and love, are very adult themes we had to grapple with for the first time. I mean this was the first play we had with two performers kissing each other (shock!) And this was the first time for most of us to perform Shakespeare, which is a struggle even for many veteran actors.

 

Briefly highlight anything you learned from being involved with theater (this show in particular).

Here’s an embarrassing story. When the cast list first came out and I learned I was playing Mercutio, I was ecstatic. Not only was it a juicy role with lots of comedy and a great death scene, but it has one of the play’s most famous monologues: the Queen Mab speech. Then came the script and I saw Queen Mab had been cut. And you know the thing every attention-hungry performer hates most: getting their lines cut! I remember being devastated. But impulsive 16-year-old me wanted to show everybody I could really nail that stupid speech, so I secretly memorized it and tried to slip it in during a late rehearsal. Only Romeo and Benvolio were in on the joke. Of course, Carla noticed what was happening two lines into the speech reprimanded me in front of the whole cast. Lesson learned! Don’t be selfish – serve the greater story being told – and remember, the director is top dog!

 

Read the NOW interview with Maxwell HERE