The more I rehearse A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the more I realize the beauty of Shakespeare’s characters.

Of course, on one level, I mean that they are beautifully designed, beautifully crafted, each with his or her own personal ticks. However, on another level I am also speaking of what those characters do to the actors who play them. Let me explain.

When we, as a cast, first began rehearsing for this show I could feel it myself as well as see it in many of my fellow cast members – we were new, by which I mean we were still at the beginning of our journey. Our characters hadn’t been developed yet, and we hadn’t quite gotten the hang of Shakespeare’s complicated language.

For many of us, myself included, this was our first Shakespeare play. I know at least in my case, I was still finding my niche.

Now let’s fast forward a bit.

Tech week is right around the corner. We have all developed our characters wonderfully, and I’m really proud of everything we have accomplished together. Then our director said something during notes at the end of rehearsal one night.

He told us he could see the way our characters were affecting us, coloring our personalities and making us closer to each other, and it got me thinking.

That’s what acting really is, isn’t it?

Acting is a group effort.

Yes, there’s a certain amount of very personal work an actor must do him or herself, but that’s not the end of the process. No matter how much you develop your character yourself, you must still interact with the other characters in the scene with you. You are always connected.

I love watching my fellow cast members laugh and joke with each other, because those friendships translate to character relationships onstage. It really, truly is like being part of a family, a family I’m proud to be involved with.

So open yourself up. Let your character color who you are, just a little bit, and allow yourself to be truly connected to the people around you, because that’s when the magic happens.