Blake Churchill is a 20 year old freshman, performing theater at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU). Some works he has performed there are Macbeth as Macduff and Into the Woods as the Baker. Though currently a nursing major at IWU, Blake is intending on switching his major to theater.
This is only Blake’s second time performing Shakespeare and he is very honored to be able to perform some of Shakespeare’s great works once again. Blake’s first Shakespeare play, Macbeth, during a fight scene resulted in the scar currently on his forehead. This experience has not discouraged him from further performances nor lessened his love for stage combat.
Blake’s favorite modern plays is Almost Main, which he also performed his freshman year of high school. When not performing, Blake enjoys hobbies such as watching Doctor Who, paintball, hanging out with friends, and going to the Movie theater.
Will Burby is very excited to be working with the Hoosier Shakes company this summer as an actor and fight choreographer. He has been acting professionally for 10 years across 5 different states on stage, screen, and through improv comedy. He received his MFA in Acting from Regent University and his BS in Communication from Grace College. He is an actor combatant with the SAFD and a member of the Shakespeare Association of America. Together with his wife Duana, he teaches acting and combat workshops in both Indiana and Ohio. He encourages everyone to support live local theatre and he hopes you enjoy the shows!
Shelby Meek is a sophomore at Indiana Wesleyan University studying theatre, she has a passion for both stage management and Shakespeare and is so excited to be working with Hoosier Shakes this summer. Shelby has been an assistant stage manager at IWU this past year in their production of Macbeth, she will be stage managing both the main stage productions this next year at IWU, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and Die Fledermaus. Shelby also enjoys hiking and camping in the summers and she wants to thank her family Rebecca, Phil, Taylor, and Meredith for their constant support and love.
Hailing from Atlanta, Jonathan is so excited to work with this company on two of his favorite Shakespeare pieces! Besides stage managing, Jonathan has served as both actor and director since childhood. Love to God, family and friends.
Nikki Bailey received her BS in Theatrical Studies from Ball State University. Nikki, who is a fan of working both on and offstage in theatre, most recently performed as Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, the Sour Kangaroo in Suessical and Aunt March in Little Women. Nikki has served as the costumer for the CSA Theatre compANY at the Community School of the Arts in Marion, Indiana for the past four years. In addition to her responsibility as costumer she also directs for the compANY and teaches classes to both pre-professional and recreational students. Nikki is pleased to return as the costumer for the second season of Hoosier Shakes and is thankful for the continued opportunities to share her love of theatre with her community. Nikki lives in Marion, Indiana with her husband Eric, and unofficially adopted son, Caleb.
Jeremy Huff is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Music, Vocal Emphasis. Jeremy is thrilled to be returning for the second season of Hoosier Shakes. He will be reprising his role as Music Director for both shows, as well as playing the role of Lord Capulet in Romeo & Juliet. A 24 year veteran of the stage, Jeremy is nervously delighted to be taking his second “stab” at Shakespeare. He is eager to finally get to portray a father/”mature character” (since he finally looks the part) as he embraces the role of Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. Jeremy currently resides in Marion, Indiana with his beloved wife, Stephanie, and their super dogs, Bella and Coco.
Meet the director of “Much ado about Nothing”, Marshall B Garrett!
Marshall B Garrett is a Maryland-based director making his Indiana debut. Marshall has directed in Washington, DC (Capital Fringe Festival), Maryland (Milburn Stone Theatre, Mobtown Players, Susquehanna Shakespeare Ensemble), Virginia (Sweet Wag Shakespeare, Mary Baldwin College, American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp), Ohio (Rubber City Shakespeare Company), Nebraska (College of Saint Mary), and Illinois (Illinois Wesleyan University).
Marshall is the founding director of the Susquehanna Shakespeare Ensemble, a new company based in northeastern Maryland, which will be presenting our first production in May. SSE is an original practices plus company, strongly influenced by OP work but adhering more to Shakespeare’s rehearsal conditions than performance aesthetics.
Along with his directorial work, Marshall is a wandering professor and scholar, having taught at Cecil College, the College of Saint Mary, and Mary Baldwin University.
After Hoosier, Marshall heads back to Staunton, VA, to direct The Knight of the Burning Pestle, and Baltimore for The Tempest. If SSE’s first production goes well, we’ll also be producing our second show then.
Marshall lives with his infinitely patient wife, Tess, their two infinitely impatient cats, and their inscrutably patient turtle.
I’m thrilled to be joining Hoosier Shakes 2017 season! Ever since I first heard about the company being founded, I knew it was something I’d want to be a part of at some point. Having gone to school at Indiana Wesleyan University, I know what it was like to study theatre at a small university in a town that’s basically a professional theatre desert. Thankfully, our professors (Hoosier Shakes Executive Director Greg Fiebig included) did an amazing job, despite our small department, at preparing us to be able to be competitive in this industry, holding us to a high standard of professionalism, and connecting us to internships in professional settings around the country. But I also know if I’d had an opportunity like this in Marion as a student, it would have been immensely beneficial. I’m excited to do my part to help kind of mentor the younger members of the cast and crew and especially learn from and be challenged by them and everyone else this summer. I know what Hoosier Shakes offers to students, professionals, and the community of Marion is something very needed and special, and I’m honored to have been invited to participate this summer. I can’t wait to see what the season has in store!
My name is Katie Little, and I will be joining Hoosier Shakes for the first time this summer as a professional guest artist. I hail originally from Dallas, Texas, where I was blessed with a family and an education that valued the performing arts. As soon as I was potty trained, I was attending theatre camps and classes, and I performed Shakespeare for the first time with my fifth grade class at Fine Arts Day. Though 11-year-old me was planning to give an unforgettably profound delivery of her Beatrice lines, I’m fairly certain that the peers and parents in attendance remember my entrance more distinctly. (I fell flat on my face…literally.)** Thankfully the mortification of my Shakespeare debut didn’t diminish my love for the Bard. Last month I earned my Master of Letters in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University, and I will earn my Master of Fine Arts from the same program next May.
Having only two summer months off from my MFA work at MBU, I wasn’t optimistic about finding a substantial acting job this summer. Needless to say, I was thrilled that Hoosier Shakes liked my video audition enough to offer me a spot in their summer repertory of Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing, two of my favorite plays by Shakespeare. This job was a perfect fit for my summer, as it optimizes time and experience, of which grad students never have enough. Though I’ll only be on-site in Marion for 6 weeks, in that short time we will rehearse and perform two full productions. Since our company size is small (as was the company Shakespeare wrote these plays for), we will be “doubling” the cast. Thus, in this season, I will be playing four characters total, ranging from the winsome ingénue (Hero) to the audacious fighter (Tybalt), giving me an interesting range to explore. In addition to my personal character work, I will be choreographing Much Ado’s dances, and learning fight choreography for Romeo and Juliet, so I don’t anticipate any dull moments in Indiana this summer. I’m greatly looking forward to jumping into this exciting work with the intrepid company of theatre makers at Hoosier Shakes in a few short weeks. Hope to see you in the audience in July or August!
**I’m pleased to report that the 5th grade incident was my last on-stage wipeout to-date, and I intend to restrict all of my falls at Hoosier Shakes this summer to the choreographed ones.
Growing up as a child, I dreamed of running away to New York City and becoming an actress. I would put “Its A Hard Knock Life” from Annie on the record player in my parent’s basement and make my friends scrub the floor while I belted each verse. I never wavered when adults asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. The summer before my senior year of high school, I started visiting colleges and even flew to New York City to tour a couple of universities. But when it came time to pick a school, I was scared and chose somewhere close to home. I graduated from Southwest Baptist University in 2007 with 2 degrees: one degree in Theater and the other in Communications. I chose Theater because I always knew I wanted to act for a living, and I chose Communications because acting never seemed like a realistic possibility.
Ya gotta make money to live, kid.
Upon graduation, I created the position of Fine Arts Director at the Christian Activity Center, an afterschool program for youth in the Samuel L. Gomper Housing Projects of East St. Louis. I spent five years there feeling like my degrees were put to good use and loving every minute I spent with the best kids in the world, but I still longed for my career to be on stage. In 2012, I told my husband I was ready to go for it. We moved 2 months later and I have been working as an NYC based actress ever since.
Something that draws me to Hoosier Shakes is their desire to cast college students alongside professional actors. I came across this great article on their website that explains why this style of casting is important to the company: “It’s one thing to learn one’s craft from a class or textbook; it is something altogether different to learn your craft from a craftsman. Hoosier Shakes provides students with an opportunity to hone their craft while onstage under the careful eye of professional actors and directors.” I love this aspect of their company! And while I wholeheartedly value my own fine arts education, I know that if I would have had that opportunity in college, it would have reassured me that my dreams were tangible. If I had the opportunity to work alongside professional actors, I could have asked all those prying questions about how to make it in a tough industry. I would have had a chance to put into practice the ever-daunting challenge of networking! And most importantly, I would have learned that I was just as talented as the professionals.
I feel honored to join the Hoosier Shakes community and share my experiences in the industry. I hope to inspire and inform. But I also look forward to learning from each and every one of my cast-mates. Because, to be honest, when we take the stage, we are all professionals; we are an unstoppable and united front of storytellers.
Melissa Harlow is playing Don Pedro in “Much Ado about Nothing” and the Nurse and Sampson in “Romeo and Juliet”. She is the cofounder of Stomping Ground Theatre Company in Hell’s Kitchen, NY.