“Do you duke?”
– A few words from Duke City Repertory Theatre’s Founder and Artistic Director Amelia Ampuero
“I have a question for you…
Do You Duke?
You may be asking yourself just exactly what that means. For me, #DoYouDuke means are you familiar with what makes Duke City Repertory Theatre special? Are you in the know, DCRT-wise?
One of the things that makes DCRT unique, especially in the Duke City, is the fact that we have a Resident Acting Company. If you’ve been to more than one Duke City Rep show, it is likely that you have seen several familiar faces. This is because we are an ensemble-based company of actors you will see repeatedly throughout a season in a variety of roles.
DCRT employs the use of a Resident Acting company because we are committed to maximum growth for our artists. It is one of my goals for Duke City Rep that every person who works with us leaves a better artist than they were when they joined us. I am not interested in simply putting on a good show, I’m interested in creating a city full of badass theatre artists and that starts with us: the members of Duke City Rep’s acting company.
Our Resident Acting Company is currently comprised of Amelia Ampuero (that’s me!), Frank Green*, Ashley Daniels, Katie Becker Colón, Ezra Colón* and Josh Heard (*denotes a member of Actors’ Equity Association).
Myself and the other five actors in the company consider ourselves scientists of the arts of acting and theatre. I use the word scientist for a very specific reason: we are on a quest to save the world through theatre and that mission requires a constant experimentation and investigation of our own work. The best way to conduct these experiments is by working together ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously. As much as we possiby can. In a rehearsal room, theatre artists need to feel the freedom to fail, to look silly, to offer solutions that might not work, to do things that we might not be naturally good at, to show sides of ourselves that we don’t very much care for and much more. Let me also state that we believe that great art is created in the space beyond what keeps us comfortable as human beings. We believe that audiences come to the theatre to see other humans being brave–that bravery is instrumental in creating transcendental art.
Any time I step on stage with one of my fellow company members, I am reaping the benefits of not only the rehearsal time we have put in for this particular show but also all of the time we have worked together in the past. This is a huge deal when you consider that there are people in the company like Frank Green who I have known for over 10 years. That’s a LOT of time in the rehearsal room together! And because we know each other so well, we don’t have to start from scratch, tip toe around each other and be cautious and “polite”. We (and the same is true for all members of DCRT’s Resident Acting Company) have the freedom to be open, to speak honestly (though always with dignity and respect), to challenge ideas, to ask questions because we have earned each other’s trust. Being on stage is a bit like going into battle and I know that every single member of my company has my back. We are there to lift each other up and support one another.
That trust translates not only to the work our audiences see on stage but also to the new artists we work with every season. These non-company members get to come into a DCRT production and be immersed in an environment where the only way to succeed is to be willing to fail and they can see examples of it happening all around them from day one. Additionally, we don’t cut these new folks any slack, we throw them right in the deep end of the pool – they are pushed just like company members are, they are challenged, they are invited into the fold, they are made part of the family. I want these artists to feel just as much trust as the company does because that is where great work is born.
I’d like to ask something of you. If you frequent our theatre and have seen many performances, please start to take note about the actors you keep seeing. Do you see growth in their work? Does one role seem more natural for them to play than another? Do you have a favorite actor that you look forward to seeing when you come to a DCRT show? I invite you to investigate these questions and the work you’ve seen on stage for it will only lead to a richer and more engaging theatrical experience for everyone.
We hope you enjoy and are moved by the work you’ve seen our company do in the past and we look forward to seeing you at the theatre!”