Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Donor Newsletter Issue 1 Article II

It’s an Actor’s Life for Me!

If you’ve been to our Theater this season, Sarah Caroline Billings probably looks familiar. She was in the ensemble for Les Miserables and as an understudy for Cosette stepped into the limelight for one night. Most recently, she starred in A Christmas Carol as the ethereal Ghost of Christmas Past and the Crachit’s middle daughter. Showing no signs of slowing down, she will be playing four characters in our upcoming Henry V (opening February 20th)! Lexie Hoag, Development Intern, sat down with Sarah Caroline to discuss the challenges of being an actor, what it’s like being a participant in the Intern Training Program, and what’s next.

Billings_Sarah Caroline 2014LH: So right now, you’re one of six acting Intern Training Program participants, how are you enjoying the program and what kinds of things have you learned?

SC: I’ve learned how to save my energy. I’m very much enjoying the Internship Training Program. I think that it’s given me a good balance of intern-y kind of duties and performing duties, as well. And education. Getting to teach. I haven’t really taught children very much before this internship, and it’s a good kind of secondary job that hopefully I could have, maybe teaching theater classes.

LH: What initially drew you to the internship here, at Orlando Shakespeare Theater?

SC: That I would get the chance to probably be in a couple of productions. I was definitely looking forward to that the most. Just getting to really immerse myself in how a strong, regional equity theater is run day to day. To see what life is like really being in theater.

LH: Could you tell us about a day in the life of you, what’s it like being Sarah Caroline, actress extraordinaire?

SC: I would say, like, for instance, tonight (02/06/15) we open, or the other interns are in The Merry Wives of Winsdor right now. I’m going to go see that, then I’m going to wake up early tomorrow and be here by 8:30 to do the Saturday community class that we do with kids. Then I’m going to go to Henry V rehearsal where we go through the script, practice blocking, and do accent training. And then we have a designer run for the show. Usually we also have some intern training program kind of classes with Anne Hering, who’s the Director of Education.

In addition to opportunities for acting, we’re also assigned to one of three departments for office hours to gain administrative experience. The departments are Company Management, Education, and what I’m in, New Play Development. I’ve been helping read and review submissions for PlayFest, which is typically in November where we have a weekend showcasing new plays. All of us interns help out with Education and get to go into the schools and teach kids about theater.

LH: As an actor, what would you say are the pros and cons of that career path?

SC: The pros are that, I think that the people that are involved in a theater are usually some of the most warm and open people you’ll ever meet. And I think that making that family when you are in a show is probably one of the big pros of being an actor. Costumes are a big pro! [Laughs] Costumes are fun. Getting to create a story in a new way. Constantly being challenged. I think you have to be mentally aware a lot of the time, which is exhausting, which can be kind of a con. But it’s very rewarding in the end that all your hard work and determination paid off. A con would be, well, it’s kind of exhausting.

LH: So we know you’re hard at work rehearsing Henry V, which was written by our Theater’s namesake, William Shakespeare. How do you feel performing Shakespeare is different from performing other types of plays?

SC: Shakespeare is a challenge because sometimes you have to convey the meaning of a word, the audience might not necessarily be familiar with. So in Shakespeare, we don’t use sub-text. That’s more of a contemporary device. Sub-text is like if, in theater, you’re saying one thing and meaning another. Shakespeare is pretty much just you are saying what you are feeling, all the time. It’s a very emotional genre. As a result, you have to do your research and know what you are saying, so that you can convey the proper emotions to your audience who might not be familiar with the language. It takes a lot of work.

LH: Would you say that you prefer it?

SC: I don’t know. I might, I haven’t worked on a contemporary play in a while, so it’s kind of hard to compare. But it’s possible. I do musicals more often than I would do contemporary plays, and I do those way more than I would do Shakespeare. This is my first like real Shakespeare show that I’ve been involved in. My first Shakespeare play… Yeah, I might… It might be pretty close to musical theater.

Henry V

DSC01206Photo (by Landon St. Gordon) featuring John P. Keller, Sarah Caroline Billings, Stephen Paul Johnson, and Kate Ingram. 

LH: So you know we recently announced our titles for next season. What show are you most excited about? (Editor’s Note: See HERE for complete list of titles)

SC: I would say The Tempest. I think it’s a really cool story, and I think especially if they do the Shakespeare’s like they’ve been doing them lately, kind of turning them on their head, that it could be very, very exciting.

LH: What’s the one thing that you feel you’ll really take away from this internship, and apply to your future career?

SC: How to conduct yourself professionally. How to be kind to everyone. Being kind to everyone. It’s kind to be kind. It’s nice to be nice.

LH: What’s next for Sarah Caroline Billings, where do you see your career someday?

SC: Well, I’m moving to New York probably within the next year, and I hope to just be able to sustain myself as a working actress.

LH: Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

SC: This internship is not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of time, but it’s worth it.

Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Intern Training Program is sponsored in part through the generosity of the Florida Theatrical Association.


One response

  1. LB Calvert

    Love to be inspired by young, new actors. This young lady did an awesome job in Henry V. If that is her novice Shakespeare voyage, we are definitely in for a real treat in the years to come. Thank you so much for making these actors come alive!

    March 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm

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