Written by Linda Yan | May 14th, 2021
This piece is a part of an ongoing series spotlighting local penguins and their love for theater and Shakespeare. Register today for a summer theater experience with Penguin Productions!
Summer is upon us– and so is summer theater! I spoke with Sadie Gingold, a veteran of Penguin Productions, about the joys and discoveries of summer youth theater, and why Shakespeare is fun. Below is our conversation edited for length and clarity.
Sadie Gingold is a Seattle-based youth theater artist. She was most recently seen as Meg in A Wrinkle in Time (Shoreline Community College) and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Penguin Productions). She’s been acting her whole life and professionally for the last three or so years. She has performed most recently at 18th and Union, Bainbridge Performing Arts, Edmonds Driftwood Players, Seattle Public Theatre, and Kitsap Forest Theater. She loves reading Shakespeare plays, cuddling her cat, and spending time with her family. She plans to study acting in college. Upcoming project: Composing the music for and acting as Balthasar in Much Ado About Nothing (Shattered Glass Project).
Linda: At Penguin Productions, we’re currently doing registration for our summer programs, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But from summer camps to family vacations, there’s always so much for kids to do in the summer. Why should someone participate in a summer theater production with Penguin?
Sadie: I think that Penguin is just a wonderful place to learn about theater, about Shakespeare, and about coming to your own as an artist, and an actor, or a creator of any kind. So I would say, even regardless of it just being summer and a busy time, making theater part of your life, and making Penguin part of your life, will change your perception about theater, and I think that’s worth being busy for.
Linda: What makes summer theater unique from theater other times during the year?
Sadie: In general I think it’s easier for youth artists to do theater without the pressure of school and homework. For me, summer theater is always so much fun that I feel like I’m at a summer camp. I love theater all year round, but I feel like it’s just easier without the pressure of school to commit to your character and really get into the play.
Linda: After over a year of virtual theater productions, this year’s summer programs will be in person and outdoors at Green Lake Park. How do you feel about these new developments?
Sadie: I’m thrilled about it! I think that acting relies so much on sharing energy with the people around you, and I think that it will really be great for a lot of people who haven’t gotten to do it because of the pandemic. It will be challenging in masks, because some people might tend to talk quietly or can sometimes mumble, but I think it’ll be a good exercise in diction and knowing what people are saying with these difficult texts; it’ll be a fun challenge and that’s really exciting.
Linda: That’s awesome, I’m really looking forward to seeing how things play out this summer. Now, let’s move on to some questions about Shakespeare, starting with what do you think studying Shakespeare has taught you?
Sadie: I think learning about Shakespeare, and how to analyze his texts, has really taught me how to dive deeper into the words I’m reading, even with regular books like ‘What does this mean?’ or ‘What is the hidden meaning behind this?’ because in Shakespeare everything has a metaphor or hidden message in it. So I guess learning to look for those is really interesting because you’re learning to see deeper into the text that you’re reading. There’s also this idea that Shakespeare writes in a different language which he really doesn’t, he just writes in English and he adds a couple words, but I feel like this intimidates some people… but it’s still English and it’s available to more people than I think who are open to it, which is sad to me.
Linda: Even though Shakespeare has definitely stood the test of time, there’s a lot of things that need to be re-examined, such as sexism and racism, in his plays especially in modern contexts. How do you think theater artists and theater directors should approach that?
Sadie: There’s some that you just can’t get around, especially with some of his comedies, because I think there’s some that are just sexist– there’s some that are just written in a misogynistic way, such as The Taming of the Shrew. I really love how we’re finding ways to explore this rather than giving up on them like ‘Let’s just never perform these.’ Not to make excuses for Shakespeare’s problems, because I know that facets of him are problematic, but I also think it was a different time then, and I think it’s always important to hold the art we’re making to a higher standard with anything regardless if it’s Shakespeare or something that someone made yesterday. Instead of being like ‘No, no, no! He’s amazing, he didn’t mean it!’ towards how he’s anti-semitic in The Merchant of Venice, we can explore that aspect rather than denying its problems or flat-out not performing it. I think that there are always ways to explore those problems in the art you’re making instead of not making art.
Linda: For those who feel intimidated by Shakespeare, do you have any advice that you would like to give them?
Sadie: I definitely understand how Shakespeare can feel really daunting at first because it can be so hard to understand. But even professional Shakespeare actors are sometimes like ‘What the heck does this mean?’ I’m in Much Ado About Nothing right now and I’m the only minor in the cast and all of us, even the most classically trained adults in the cast, are often like ‘Hey, what do you think this means?’ and we discuss and we help each other and we will discuss things as we go through it. And it’s okay if you don’t understand some things at first because Penguin is really good at teaching people how to analyze Shakespeare and how to understand what he’s saying in his texts. If you do Tempest I also will be there to help you, I’m assistant directing! We can meet outside of rehearsal, and that’s a promise to anyone who signs up. It’s worth it, and you can always learn.
Linda: If someone’s on the fence about registering for The Tempest or A Midsummer Night’s Dream what would you tell them?
Sadie: Oh my gosh, do it. DEFINITELY do it. I’m biased because those were my two first-ever Shakespeare plays, but they are two very easy ones to get into Shakespeare with if you feel intimidated by the idea of reading his texts. A Midsummer Night’s Dream especially, it’s really fun and mystical and learning about analyzing text while being out in the park by Greenlake in the beautiful weather– definitely worth it. Definitely worth the friendships and the experience and the community– and just a wonderful play. And The Tempest, I LOVE The Tempest. I did it for the first time ever with Shana years ago. I still love the play and how it’s about forgiveness and magic. It’s just wonderful. I love both of the plays so much and I think it’ll be so much fun for anyone who participates. Anyone who’s on the fence: DEFINITELY do it because the community of Penguin has been a saving grace for me during this pandemic, and I think being a part of it is absolutely worthwhile.
Penguin Productions is currently accepting registrations for The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To register, please visit our Productions and Performances page. There is no obligation to pay for our programs.