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Meet the Cast of Much Ado: Josh Fremer

Josh Fremer (Borachio, Messenger) has been working with Pigeon Creek since 2009 when he appeared in PCSC’s Early Modern Others series as Giovanni in Tis Pity She's a Whore and is excited to finally work on a mainstage Shakespeare production with Pigeon Creek. Josh has also performed with many Grand Rapids performance companies including Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Circle Theatre, Heritage Theatre Group, Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids, Black Hills Theatre, Dog Story Theater, Spontaneous Combustion improv and Super Happy Funtime Burlesque. Josh received a Grand Award for Heritage Theatre's 2006 production of Metamorphoses and was a founding member of Dog Story Theater.

Give us a brief summary of your acting history

My first show was at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre when I was 10 and I was in a lot of community theatre shows as a kid and a young adult. As I got older I found more paying work and branched out of plays into improv and burlesque. I've taken a couple breaks, but acting has always been a big part of my life. At this point I've performed all across the country and on nearly every stage in Grand Rapids, from the 10 Weston back room to Van Andel Arena.

What drew you to audition for this production?

I've wanted to perform with PCSC for a long time but it's been over 10 years since I did any Shakespeare. My impression of Pigeon Creek people was always that they're a bunch of intimidatingly well-educated Shakespeare eggheads and I didn't want to be the guy who was slowing everyone else down by constantly needing help with the language. Much Ado was the perfect opportunity to break through that insecurity because I've done it twice before. I also think comedies are a lot more accessible than histories or tragedies, and this play in particular has a lot of good jokes.

What do you do when you’re not acting? (talk about family, day job, hobbies, etc.)

By day I'm a web programmer so I spend most of my time fretting over things on a computer. My girlfriend, Sarah Jean Anderson, is a gifted and successful performer and artist and we live with our bone-headed dog and clumsy cat.

Pick three adjectives that describe your (major) character and explain why you chose them.

Borachio is a cocky, lecherous drunk. His drunkenness is directly referenced in the text, as well as in his name ("borracho" is Spanish for "drunk", both as an adjective and noun). He takes several opportunities to bring up his relationship with Margaret, which indicates that he either spends a lot of time thinking about women, or it's a really big deal to him that he finally found a woman that's into (or at least tolerates) him. I like to think it's a little of both. His cockiness is likely covering some insecurity or self-loathing, and is certainly aided by booze, but I get the impression that Borachio is generally a relatively functional alcoholic and mostly believes his drunken delusions of awesomeness.

What physical/vocal choices have you made for this character and why

His cockiness and horniness is mostly portrayed from the waist down, with hips cocked forward and a wide stance to take up as much room as possible. His alcoholism is telegraphed through his terrible posture, with hunched shoulders, gut sticking out and a slightly off-kilter center of gravity, as though he's always leaning on something. This character presents some uniquely fun opportunities to portray varying degrees of drunkenness (as well as hung-over-ness) which is pretty straightforward with inappropriately-loud volume, a bit of slurred speech (hopefully not so much that it's hard for the audience to understand what I'm saying) and sloppy, off-balance movement.

What made you want to become an actor? What makes you want to continue being an actor?

When I was small my parents took me to plays and I remember being very impressed by the craftsmanship involved in staging a live performance. Things I take for granted now, like how a spotlight would come up on a performer already on their mark, or when everyone on stage would freeze in place while one actor delivered a monologue, hinted to me that the two hours I was seeing on stage were just the end of a much longer process. Very early on I wanted to be on the "inside" of that process and see how the magic came together.

When creating a Shakespeare character, do you start from the "outside" (voice and physicality) or the "inside" (relationships and motivations)? Why?

I always work from the outside in. The physicality is what the audience sees and hears directly, and I like to make strong choices early in the process so that I get enough time to practice and hone them. As a character actor, my internal motivations are often invisible or even completely irrelevant to the plot, so I feel more freedom to experiment with these and play with different interpretations.

What is your favorite "Original Practice" (audience contact, cross-gendered casting, live music and sound, etc.) and what exactly do you love about it?

I think direct audience interaction is an extremely valuable tool for live performances. It's something that people can't get watching a show on a screen. It's a tricky dynamic to get right, and in my opinion it's often done too heavy-handedly. I think Pigeon Creek uses it sparingly and effectively, never dragging people out of their comfort zones but giving just a little bit of personal attention here and there to connect the audience more intimately to the action.

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