Student Spotlight: Avery Feingold '17
Some people hate reading Shakespeare in high school. Some people love it. Some people love his works so much that they want to bring his words to life on stage. Avery Feingold ’17, president of the Rude Mechanicals, falls into the latter category.
Feingold participated in a variety of theater productions, both musical and not, throughout high school, but his experience performing in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” during his senior year is what pushed him to join the Rude Mechanicals when he came to Hanover the next year.
“I knew that Shakespeare was something I liked a lot,” he said. “I decided the Rude Mechanicals were definitely the path for me.”
Fellow Rude Mechanicals member Nate Grice ’16 said Feingold’s engagement in the group is evidenced by his commitment to his current position as head of the group.
“He made it clear that this group is something that matters to him,” Grice said. “That passion is very evident in the work that he’s done in planning our shows, in leading the group and making sure that everything comes together.”
Claire Feuille ’18, another member of the theater group, met Feingold for the first time when she auditioned for the group last spring.
“He’s always been really welcoming, and he was one of the first people I got to know in the group,” she said.
As head of the Rude Mechanicals, Feingold performs a range of duties related to the operational aspects of the troupe.
“He’s the one who plans out our rehearsals. He’s the one who manages the selection of the show,” Grice said. “He heads up auditions for members to join the group and then auditions for characters within each show.”
Though his duties as head put him in a more directorial position, Feingold still plays character roles during the group’s productions. Since he joined, he has performed in “All’s Well that Ends Well,” “As You Like It,” “Macbeth” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and this term he will add “King Lear” to his performance resume.
Feuille said Feingold’s range as an actor is demonstrated by the variety of roles he has played.
“I think he’s really versatile. Comedy is probably what is most natural to him, but he was also Macbeth in ‘Macbeth’ and Demetrius in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Those two roles are very different,” she said.
The Rude Mechanicals’ production of “Macbeth” was staged last fall on Halloween, and Feingold embodied both the character and the context, Grice said.
“He definitely brought the creepiness factor that only Macbeth on Halloween would demand,” he said.
In his role as Demetrius, Feingold added depth to the relationship between his character and Helena, Feuille said.
“He did a really good job with the progression of the character, which is key to making that show, or any show really, interesting,” she said.
Of the many productions Feingold has participated in with the Rude Mechanicals, he is particularly proud of “As You Like It,” which the troupe performed in the spring of 2014.
“That was one of the most incredible shows we’ve done,” he said.
In particular, he pointed to the location that the group chose for the performance as one of his favorite aspects of the show. Rather than performing on a traditional stage, the Rude Mechanicals put on their show behind Baker-Berry Library, right in front of the “X-Delta” statue.
Rather than a traditional adaptation of the show, however, Feingold said the group took advantage of different themes in the work to make it unique.
“We incorporated into that show a lot of weird modernist themes,” he said. “We played around a lot with genders and did a lot in terms of modernizing the play. We really worked on approaching the women’s issues and the gender issues brought up in play.”
The process of modernizing Shakespeare plays is key to the Rude Mechanicals and to Feingold. The entire group participates in the process, and they seek to use Shakespeare as a medium by which to discuss pertinent campus and social justice issues, Feingold said.
“We never want to recreate something that’s already been done,” he said. “We always strive to make our shows new and original in any way we can.”
One of the challenges Feingold faces in his role as head of the Rude Mechanicals is the lack of college and theater department resources for student-run theater troupes.
“Sometimes it is frustrating because we have such great ideas, but we’re limited in our resources,” he said.
Another challenge is managing both the logistical and theatrical aspects of the position. Grice said that Feingold balances the two well.
“It’s impressive that he’s able to focus his efforts into handling the logistics side of things and also capable of projecting a really powerful and really genuine persona on stage,” he said.
Feingold enjoys both aspects of his job and feels strongly about his role within the organization and the group’s ability to continue producing shows that are both fun and address larger issues.
“For me, I’m in the more directorial role in the group, and what I love seeing is people bonding together and people growing together through the producing of these plays and through our experiences,” he said.