December: Steampunk Christmas Carol. Tinker Tim, Barb Ratchet, and the swash-buckling Ghost of Christmas Present return in EDGE Theatre’s annual Steampunk Christmas Carol.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: ALMOST GOT HIM
February: Sherlock Holmes: Almost Got Him returned, this time at the Devonshire Playhouse in Skokie. “When five of Holmes’ fiercest adversaries come together, they decide on the ultimate wager: who has the best Almost-got-him Sherlock story?” Directed by Orion Couling.
UNREHEARSED SHAKESPEARE WORKSHOP
March – April: Unrehearsed Shakespeare held new classes, welcoming ten new Apprentices into our ranks.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
April: Unrehearsed presented the classic “problem play,” whose commentary on sexual harassment, assault, and human agency seems remarkably more relevant today than when it was written.
April: Unrehearsed joined other Shakespeare companies in Chicago for Fury Theatre’s Bard Party, a commemoration of the 401st anniversary of Shakespeare’s shuffling off this mortal coil. In tune with the evening’s spirit motif, we presented two of the Ghost scenes from Hamlet.
June: I performed as Buckingham in Fury Theatre’s production of the classic tale of Tricky Dickie and how he stole the election/throne.
July: Shakespeare’s classic history of a weak, thin-skinned monarch taught us about empathy, power, and pragmatism’s dominion over emotion.
THE WAYWARD WOMEN
July: Milwaukee’s TheaterRED staged the sophomore production of The Wayward Women. Love, lies, and fisticuffs abound in this new Elizabethan comedy.
“A shout out… to playwright/director Jared McDaris, for hoodwinking me completely into thinking I was watching the genuine article, a “forgotten” Elizabethan play that had escaped my attention all these years.” – Herb Metzler
“Exhilarating and inspiring Historical fiction!” – Mark Anthony Child
October: Coriolanus. Unrehearsed closed its eighth season with Coriolanus, the Roman tragedy that pits elitism against ignorance.
TWELFTH NIGHT ON TWELFTH NIGHT
January: Unrehearsed commemorates the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s stumbling off! We opened with our annual Twelfth Night on Twelfth Night. After working on this play seven times, I am still learning new things about it!
THE WAYWARD WOMEN (Or: Nothing To Do)
March-April: We Three debuted The Wayward Women (or: Nothing To Do), a new Elizabethan Comedy about gender roles, post-war peacetime, and good ol’ fashioned doin’ it!
“ I cannot recommend this show enough… It is original, playful, hilarious… A solid 4 out of 4 stars.” – Patrick Bushnell
AS YOU LIKE IT
April: Unrehearsed staged As You Like It for the first time in Chicago. For the second time in my life, I got to perform “All the world’s a stage,” this time with the Duke Senior as a visual aid!
[THUS DIE I]
April: Unrehearsed joined Two Pence Theatre for [Thus Die I], a celebration of all things Shakespeare and Death. April 23rd, in commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s lamented demise. After an evening of depressing death scenes, we were happy to add some levity with Pyramus & Thisbe. And I got to fulfill a twenty-year ambition by portraying Wall!
UNREHEARSED SHAKESPEARE WORKSHOP
May – June: Back by popular demand, Unrehearsed Shakespeare held another workshop, recruiting student performers for Hamlet Unrehearsed.
June: We Three struck again with Countess Bathory, an Elizabethan tragedy about the infamous “Blood Countess,” who alleged bathed in the blood of her virgin serving girls to maintain her legendary beauty.
“GO SEE THIS PLAY!! Gorgeous writing and truly exceptional acting. Mary Kate Arnold brings the countess fully to life, imbuing her with a humanity and beauty that makes her actions all the more believable and horrifying. A wonderful evening at the theater!” – Laura S.
“Dark subject matter handled deftly, surprising moments of humor and pathos… it was very pleasant to hear non-Shakespearean verse that was just as passionate and fiery as the Bard’s.” – Jeremiah Barr
“And, of course, the play would be nothing without the expertly crafted writing.” – Stephanie Plus Verb
“Ladies and gentlemen, you have to see the show! But you might wanna leave the kiddies at home. It is brutal, intense, tension so thick you could cut it with a knife (might take a couple passes even). One HELL of a show!” – Dylan Crow
“One hell of a show… It is not very often you can see a bold performance like that even in a place like Chicago.” – Artur Michalowicz
TO BE OR NOT TO BE? Unrehearsed Hamlet finally came to Chicago! Featuring a completely different cast each night, three different Hamlets helped created three markedly different performances of this, the greatest of Shakespeare’s masterpieces.
THE HOUR OF ERRORS
August: Unrehearsed headed out to Elgin, IL to perform Comedy of Errors with Janus Theatre!
Guests included Jacob Saenz, Robyn Shanae, and myself. Immediately following my interview, The Wayward Women‘s Act 2, Scene 1 was performed, featuring Adrian Garcia, Gilly Guire, Alexandra Boroff, and Katy Jenkins reprising their original roles. My interview featured some gratifyingly boisterous laughter (especially from one particularly appreciative audience member), though this was soon dwarfed by the reaction to the scene itself. Admittedly, it’s easy to get a reaction in a scene where the characters talk almost exclusively about sex.
POLYXENA IN ORBIT / BUTCHER BOGGLE
October: Otherworld Theatre hosted its 2nd annual PARAGON play festival, the largest Sci-Fi/Fantasy play festival in the world! My play Butcher Boggle, a parable about moral relativism, was just one of the 40 plays that were staged. I also directed Stuart Bousel’s Polyxena in Orbit.
October: The Accidental Shakespeare Company presented a staged reading of Upton Sinclaire’s Hell, a darkly comic indictment of contemporary capitalism that is still sadly relevant today. I was blessed to double as Mammon, the devil of Greed who takes over the management of Earth, and “Big” Bill Haywood, a coal miner and socialist revolutionary.
STEAMPUNK CHRISTMAS CAROL
December: EDGE Theatre produced my Steampunk Christmas Carol (and this time, I got to direct!) in rep with Commedia Beauregard’s A Klingon Christmas Carol. Much sci-fi! So Holiday! It was a remarkably warm and reassuring production with many of my favorite artists.
KING LEAR UNREHEARSED
December: Unrehearsed closed its fourth season with King Lear! Two very different but equally exciting audiences made each performance an incredible and unique experience, as did our brief fore into larger venues with the Public House Theatre.
UNREHEARSED SHAKESPEARE WORKSHOP
January – February: Back by popular demand, Unrehearsed Shakespeare held its second workshop in half a year.
March – April: At long last I returned to The Right Brain Project, for a dream role in a dream play. The RBP opened its tenth season with Tony Kushner’s The Illusion, in which I played the lunatic braggadocio, Matamore. Ever since I saw the Court’s production back in 2010, I have longed to be a part of this show, so that’s one bucket-lister down.
“McDaris is this deliciously melodramatic doofus.” – Katy Walsh, The Fourth Walsh
“Jared McDaris makes a swashbuckling Matamore, with all the wink-and-nudge humor of Inigo Montoya.” – Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review
“Jared McDaris’ pompous pirate/plot device [scores] the biggest laughs.” – Kerry Reid, The Chicago Tribune
TITUS ANDRONICUS UNREHEARSED
April: Unrehearsed Shakespeare finally returned to Black Rock Pub (home of Twelfth Night 2013) to stage a remarkably successful Titus Andronicus. The audience’s freedom to voice their opinions on the characters’ actions allowed for a strong personal investment and interpersonal connection. It was nifty.
UNREHEARSED WORKSHOP IN MICHIGAN’S AACTFEST
April: Zack Meyer and I traveled taught an Unrehearsed Shakespeare workshop in Midland, Michigan for the Regional Festival Conference for the American Association of Community Theatres (AACTFest). It was a small class, but the director of the festival was kind enough to join us and seemed very happy with the experience. So, win-win.
RICHARD III UNREHEARSED.July: Zack Meyer starred as the hunchback king in his (possibly) final performance with Unrehearsed Shakespeare. Tricky Dicky lies, cajoles, and charms his way into England’s highest office, and often wins the audience over along the way. We had some of our most enthusiastic audiences to date, giving Zack and his horse a great send-off into the wild beyond of grad school. Good luck Zack!
“We had an awesome time!! Brava/Bravo to all the actors, playwright, and production team! I love seeing theatre that leaves you energized at the end.” – Emily Brantz, audience member (via social media, unsolicited)
“Such a great show! Laughed a lot, booed, cheered, hissed, clapped, all sorts of good feels.” – Peter Hammer, audience member (via social media, unsolicited)
THE SHAKESPEARE ALL-STARS GO ON TOUR! KINDA!
August: Independence Park Farmer’s Market (Aug 9), Goldberg Playlot (Aug 12), Cubano Fest (Aug 16), and the Portage Park Farmer’s Market (Aug 16).
August: TheaterRED in Milwaukee produced an outstanding Unrehearsed performance of Twelfth Night. I got to play Malvolio again after seven years, and it was a highlight of a very full and very excellent month.
THE THESPIS PROJECT
August: Inspired by his studies of natural speech and conversation (and how we actors tend to abandon those natural proclivities once we’re given a script), Dr. Christopher Aruffo set four short plays in Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, demonstrating natural speech in given circumstances.
PARAGON PLAY FESTIVAL
August: Otherworld Theatre hosted their first annual PARAGON: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Play Festival. I directed Amanda Carson (A Thousand Times Goodnight) and Katy Jenkins (EDGE Theatre) in the short plays Queens of the Realm and A Dream of Two Moons. August was a busy, fruitful month.
THE TEMPEST, UNREHEARSED
October: Five years ago, Unrehearsed Shakespeare premiered in Chicago with The Tempest. Now at long last, we’ve brought the magic back!
STEAMPUNK CHRISTMAS CAROL
December: A one weekend event in conjunction with the EDGE Youth Theater production. ‘Steampunk’ is a retelling that follows Dickens’ classic story with modern humor, lots of heart…and steam-powered robots.
February and March: I performed with World’s Stage Theatre (Milwaukee) in Amadeus, playing Mozart.
“Jared McDaris is intoxicating as a show-stealing Mozart: brash, crude and shamelessly egotistical, but also charming, funny and passionate. Even more impressive, McDaris captures the emotional depth of a character who rightly tells us that while ‘my tongue is stupid, my heart isn’t.‘ ” – Mike Fischer, JS Online
Fischer later gave my performance an honorable mention in his list of the top ten Milwaukee performances of 2014. Good Milwaukee debut.
ROMEO & JULIET (UNREHEARSED)
May: Unrehearsed Shakespeare moved to Mary’s Attic, where we performed Romeo & Juliet for the first time (directed by Zack Meyer). I performed as Mercutio to some of our largest and especially most appreciative audiences to date.
LOVE’S LABOURS LOST
June-July: The Right Brain Project’s Labours of Love opened in late June, featuring diverse pieces and musical performances from local artists. The centerpiece of this project was a performance of Love’s Labours Lost, which I directed.
UNREHEARSED SHAKESPEARE WORKSHOPS
The Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company finally brought Workshops back to Chicago. On July 15, 17, 22, and 24, students learned the basics of the Unrehearsed technique, as well as some pointers on how to focus your preparation, how to be a good scene partner, and how to approach verse with a sense of discovery.
JULY 15: BASICS: Intro to the Unrehearsed Rules and Guidelines.
JULY 17: BOOTCAMP: Incorporating all the Rules into small scenes.
JULY 22: STORY-TELLING: Learn to actively listen and work as a group.
JULY 24: MASTER’S COURSE: Work on full scenes with veterans, and join a discussion with experienced performers on the best methods.
–Dr. Jonathan Shailor, Founder and Director, The Shakespeare Prison Project: A Partnership Between the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Racine Correctional Institution, Sturtevant, Wisconsin.
TWELFTH NIGHT (MKE)
July-August: I spent July in Milwaukee directing Twelfth Night, the inaugural production of the newly formed H+D Productions, in collaboration with Story Teller Theatre; performed outdoors and hosted by Saint Thomas More High School.
CAST: Hayley Cotton, Ethan Hall, Stuart Mott, Eric Scherrer, Sasha Sigel, Shanna Theiste, Tawnie Thompson, Bridgette Well, Glenn Widdicombe, and Rachel Zembrowski.
“Masterfully delivered… Director Jared McDaris staged each scene with purpose, allowing the actors to thrive… a brilliant overall production.” – Local Trolley
“Under the direction of Chicago-based Jared McDaris… they capture something about the play that more respectful productions don’t always: it’s really, really funny… As broad as their characterizations are, the players understand what they’re saying, know what they’re feeling, and they show it.” – Jeff Grygny, Milwaukee Theatre Examiner
August: The Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company presented our Double Feature: The Hour of Errors (an hour-long cutting of Comedy of Errors), directed by Emma Couling; and Double Falsehood, the allegedly-Elizabethan play of dubious origin, directed by Danny Pancratz.
September – December: I joined the Shakespeare All-Stars for their Fall 2014 season. The Shakespeare All-Stars presents accessible and interactive vignettes from the Bard’s most popular works to schools and theaters in the Chicagoland area.
HENRY V UNREHEARSED
October: The Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company wrapped up its second full season with Henry V. We few, we happy few, may sit amidst the action and the passion. War! Romanticism! Nationalism! Leeks! Henry V has it all!
November: I acted as text coach for The Cuckoo’s Theater Project’s production of The Tempest.
October-November: I rejoined Accidental Shakespeare for their sophomore production of MacBeth. Once again, I found myself playing Duncan and the Porter, but with a little Old Man and Doctor thrown in for good measure.
“McDaris is an extremely dynamic actor, switching convincingly and quickly through majestic, hilarious, frantic, and quietly concerned through each of the roles he plays.” – ailelie
EDGE THEATER: 2014 began with EDGE Theater producing my hour-long stage-adaptation of The Hobbit, written for young performers. Shortly afterward, they commissioned two more shows: a semi-original work, Almost Got Him Sherlock, and my hour-long children’s adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. Their season wrapped up in December with my Steampunk Christmas Carol.