Among a large cast of stellar talents, one star of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" stands heads...and tails...above the rest.
There's a lot to boast about in The University of SC Theatre Program's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, from its gorgeous visual design to its non-stop energy and sense of good, plain fun. What may ultimately stand out from the production, however, is a genuine star-in-the-making -- well, at least that's how guest artist Gavin sees it.
Gavin, a four-year-old "double doodle" (part Golden Doodle, part Labradoodle) is making his stage debut in Midsummer, thanks to a suggestion to add him to the cast by roommate/co-star Conor Gallagher, a sophomore majoring in Theatre and English. We sat down with Gavin to get his take on being a part of the show, life as a big dog on campus and his future plans.
World, meet Gavin. The Double Doodle.
Gavin, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. Can you
tell us how you came to be cast in this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
My roommate and good friend, Conor Gallagher, had already been cast in the show as the characters Snout and Wall. Really, he’s the one who suggested me for this part, so I guess I’ll owe him if I get “discovered” from doing this. I don’t want to sound immodest, but the director, Robert Richmond, has told me that I’m pretty much a show-stopper in this production.
Is this your first time on stage?
Yes, on a stage like Drayton Hall Theatre, for sure. It’s funny, I’ve known Conor since I was just a pup, and he always tried to get me to “perform” for him back then — you know, tricks and stuff. I just wasn’t into it. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered my natural talents as an actor. Now, the stage is becoming like a second home.
What have you learned about being an actor through appearing in Midsummer?
So much. I’ve learned you really have to give to the other actors. It’s not all about you, it’s about your part in the larger story. I mean, when I’m out there and I can sense everyone’s eyes on me, I know that my fellow actors are doing their part to make that moment in the story all about me. I hope I’m able to do the same for them. I’ve heard human actors say that they’re told never to work with dogs or children because we are such scene stealers. I hope I’m doing my part to erase that horrible stereotype. Well, for dogs, at least. Sometimes those little people can really hog the limelight!
We hear you’re currently enrolled at the University? How did that happen?
This is only being read by your fans, right? Well, really it’s kind of a hush-hush thing, because I’m not, shall we say, “in the system.” Conor started bringing me around to campus last year, and through him I started to meet some of the professors, and, well, I guess they were impressed by my innate abilities enough to let me in a few classes. I’ve just blossomed since then. It’s been incredible absorbing so much knowledge.
Do you have a major?
Poli-Sci, with a minor in Comparative Lit.
I know, right?
So, what’s been the best part about being in this show?
You know, getting to work on a Shakespeare production has been a real blessing. You really get a sense of the full human experience through his words, and on top of that, he’s actually ridiculously funny. Also, the cast has been very gracious and so accommodating to me as the new guy. And they all SMELL AAAH-MAZING.
What would you say to encourage people to come see A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
I’d say you simply won’t have a better time in the theatre. If you’re like me, and this is your first time experiencing the magic of Shakespeare, you’ll find this is a great way to be introduced to just how brilliant and life-affirming his plays are, and how even after four-hundred-some-odd human years — and don’t even get me started on the dog years equivalent — his works are still relevant. Also, if you love to see how humans and dogs interact, this is the show for you. Also, I’m really, really, really good in it. What’s more to say?
What is your next project?
I am working on my one-dog show in support of PETA and K9 abuse, and I am in talks with Steven Spielberg to play the title role in Hamlet.