Q and A with Director Ned Baker
Ned Baker is a 23-year old director living and working in Chicago. A transplanted Detroit native, Ned has most recently worked as an assistant director on The Hypocrites' Coriolanus and Steppenwolf Garage's Drunken City . When not holding forth on one of his many topics of expertise (Batman, Hamburgers, and the Renaissance), Ned can often be found bowling. He was kind enough to sit down with EdgeVille Buzz for an interview- the article can be found here
Why do you like Shakespeare/ Why is Shakespeare important today?
Ned Baker: Oh man do I love Shakespeare. I wouldn't argue that Shakespeare's style is realistic - not only do we not talk that way now, but real people never did. The words are larger than life. But even in spite of that - and this is the cool part - even 420 years later, we recognize the characters as real, familiar people. So it's fun to have a go at a story and characters that, for good reason, were around before we were born and will still be around when we're gone.
What was the genesis of this project?
NB: Romeo and Juliet is, I mean, why be coy, in theatre it's the classic of classics. I mean Shakespeare's the most widely-read fiction author in the world and what's the first one you learn? It's got kissing and swordfighting, who doesn't want to watch that? So there was something so appropriate about making our first tentative steps into the world of Chicago theatre with such a 'first play.'
The appeal is universal, but we keep doing it - and why? Because it's always surprising us.
I was inspired by a biography of Joseph Papp, an American theatre legend, who took his first baby steps with a shoestring-budget production of Romeo and Juliet. And I said, "Here we go, we're in that position: young, energetic, still figuring everything out. Wouldn't it be fun to do that?"
What's going to be cool about this show/ what are you personally anticipating?
NB: I like giving people a chance to experience such a familiar show in such a potentially disarming and immersive way. I'm excited about the ways in which this will hopefully be as much a community event as a play.
What have you enjoyed about or found meaningful in the process so far?
NB: It's been very exciting to find, here in the real world, outside of the relative bubble of college, that I've been welcomed into such an energetic and talented community, and that not only are my friends inspiring and creative, but actually willing to put their shoulders to the wheel and make something happen.
What was exciting about doing the play in the Edgewater area?
NB: Edgewater is such a flippin' cool place! So far we've been holding rehearsals in Lakefront Park and it's so fun to feel like we're right there in the middle of such a vibrant neighorhood. We're rehearsing this play and within 100 yards of us there might be people walking their dog, doing Tai Chi, playing a drum circle, throwing a birthday party, you name it. It means we're not in our own world, we're in a Chicago neighborhood amidst people of practically all backgrounds. That perspective on what we're doing is refreshing.
Why Moody's Pub?
NB: A good neighborhood pub, oh, you can't put a price on that. A place like Moody's is a gem, it's places like that which make a neighborhood home. They make it your turf. To have your favorite place, "Oh, tonight let's grab a table at Moody's - it's our bar." And you sit there, you get the whole gamut of Edgewater citizens - people from every background. Pitcher of beer, plate of fries, it's that community feel that seemed so right-on for the kind of event we wanted to make. Oh, and that Fried Seaburger. I cannot sum up its glories.