Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Meet Andi!

Andi Dema is one of those people that I just love to say his whole name when I refer to him. To me, he is always "Andi Dema." I remember first meeting Andi Dema a few years back at Texas Shakespeare Festival. I saw him in The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Julius Caesar, and most memorably 1776. The very phrasing and tone of the way he said, "Delaware seconds!" will forever live in my memory. It was hilarious, partially because he was so committed to it.

We are so fortunate to have Andi Dema with us this season, and I am most especially looking forward to his Shylock. So many productions attempt to make Shylock the hero of this play. I understand this, I really do. Shylock is an incredibly complex character. Shakespeare was top-notch at creating incredibly complex characters. But many productions lose sight of the fact that Shylock is actually the villain in this play. I'm not saying he needs to be a mustache-twirling, cardboard cut-out villain. No way! But the beauty of Shakespeare's villains and why we love them so much is because they much more complex and interesting than a cookie-cutter cartoon. Of course, we must find the humanity in Shylock's character. He's got it in spades. But we shouldn't cover up the fact that Shylock is indeed the villain.

To stand on my soap-box for a moment: I am firm in my belief that the fact that Shylock is Jewish and the fact that Shylock is a villain have nothing substantial to do with each other. Shylock is not a villain, because he is Jewish. He is a villain, because he is a villain. And he happens to be Jewish. There I said it! Now this is turning into a post not at all about introducing Andi Dema to you, so I apologize and I will now step off my soap-box.

Andi and I will just have to post about character discussions in just a few weeks, won't we? We are very excited about this production! I know Andi is going to bring a great deal of depth to this role, at the same time as he fearlessly embraces what is terrifying in this man. The unabashed and hard will to cut a pound of flesh from another man's chest. Think about that for awhile. Really.

And after you think about that, picture this handsome man holding the knife:

(MID: Egeus, Peter Quince; VEN: Shylock, Stephano; KIDS: Chorus 1, Egeus, Bottom)

Andi Dema
Andi Dema is an Albanian actor who has previously worked with Texas Shakespeare Festival, Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, Bright Star Touring, National Theatre for Children, and Oklahoma Children's Theatre. Favorite roles include Clitandre in The Learned Ladies, Joey Percival in Misalliance and Jack Tanner in Man and Superman. Mr. Dema is a BFA graduate of Oklahoma City University.

Support Andi's work with us this summer by adopting him. You can also adopt the wonderfully complex Shylock! A portion of donations made in Andi's name will go directly to him. An actor needs ice cream.

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