“You've got to really want to do it”: Annabelle Terry and Anne Odeke talk acting and theater

Image via DePauw University

Five actors representing the Actors From the London Stage (AFTLS) company held their week-long residency at DePauw from Monday, Oct. 10 to Friday, Oct. 14. The residency included visits to DePauw classes, an open workshop with the student theater organization, Duzer Du, and the Oct. 12 performance of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” This year’s residency marked 30 years of partnership between DePauw and the AFTLS. 

The actors and actresses were Roger May, Claire Redcliffe, Anne Odeke, Annabelle Terry, and Michael Wagg. 

According to an email from the Green Center for Performing Arts, actors who perform in the AFTLS productions are chosen from among the finest actors in Great Britain, and each actor performs multiple roles, changing characters in full view of the audience. They remain on stage during the entire performance with minimal props and costumes. 

Actor Annabelle Terry said an audience who is unfamiliar with Shakespeare would be perfect for their performances.

“If we're not making the story super clear, if you can't understand what's going on, then we're not doing our job correctly,” she said. 

Although the fall 2022 tour would be Terry’s second time performing with the AFTLS, it never gets any less exciting for her. Terry said she found herself connecting with the text and other cast members, and they have been able to put on a good show without excessive technological support. 

Terry said her motivation to join the cast was the opportunity to play multiple characters in the show.

“I love multi-rolling…getting to do really challenging multi-rolling was something that I wanted to get my teeth into,” she said. 

Because the cast members have to switch back and forth between the storylines and emotions of different characters, Terry described multi-rolling as a challenge to always stay present, focused, and ready.

“If you can rise to that challenge, and embrace it and go, this is going to be unlike any other job…it can be so rewarding,” Terry added. 

She said her biggest takeaway from this kind of performance is the ability to “come up with ideas that are maybe not the most obvious choices, but the more interesting choices.”

According to actor Anne Odeke, Shakespeare’s texts can be scary so the cast wants to make them accessible to the audience. 

“It's wonderful when our audience is calm and this is something almost in our DNA about theater, where we are just drawn to listening to a great tale being told,” Odeke said.

She described the audition process as stressful, but also an opportunity to interact with other cast members and explore new things in Shakespeare’s texts. 

Odeke enjoyed the experience of directing the play with a team because it was not something she was familiar with. 

“This process is so collaborative…having essentially four other directors in the room means you're able to learn from them as well,” Odeke said. 

The actors both gave advice to aspiring actors at DePauw. 

“If you're studying something other than theater, but you feel like it's something you're interested in, make it your main hobby,” Terry said. “So go and see lots of shows, go and watch lots of cinema or go and see lots of music concerts. Try and join amateur drama groups…And then if you still really really want to do it, have a go yourself.” 

“You've got to really want to do it. And by that, I mean, that little voice in your head, which is telling you to go for it, to live the dream. And I understand that perhaps now might not be the right time for you to pursue a career in acting,” Odeke added. “But if that voice still hasn't gone away by 10 years, I'd probably suggest that maybe you start listening to it.”