Meet the Director and Cast of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 5: Ashlyn Thompson (Helena) by Joel Markowitz

This is the Part 5 in a series of interviews with the director and cast members of Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Meet Ashlyn Thompson.

Ashlyn Thompson.
Ashlyn Thompson (Helena). Photo courtesy of Annapolis Shakespeare Company.

How did you become involved with this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream? What did you perform at your audition?

I went to see Pride & Prejudice this past spring. A few friends that I trained with were in the cast and I wanted to catch up with them. After the show was over, I remember going out with the cast and drilling my friends about the company. I was impressed with the work and I wanted to audition. So, I did! I auditioned for the company’s season with two pieces: Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew as Kate and Congreve’s The Way of the World as Lady Wishfort.

Why did you want to play this role, and what is the most fun about playing her?

I’ve always wanted the opportunity to play Helena. I’m a tall actress – I don’t want this height to go to waste! And I love how that is a characteristic that defines Helena in the show. I get to go back and experience my awkward high school days, but with a bit more confidence and acceptance of my stature.

What are some of the suggestions that Kristin has given you on playing Helena that has made your performance better?

For Helena, I feel that I have had a lot of creative freedom to play in the role. One part in particular that, hopefully, reflects that is Helena and Demetrius’ first scene together. Kristin, allowed flexibility between both our interpretations of the scene and let us go just for it!

How does the design of the show affect your performance?

Well, it’s cold

When did you get the ‘Theater Bug’? Where did you get your theatre training?

Growing up, I started dancing on a competition team. In middle school, I realized I wasn’t having much fun with the dance anymore because I didn’t like the competition. But, I really liked being on a stage. That summer I was registered for a musical theatre summer camp. I’ve been hooked ever since. I went to Patapsco High for the theatre magnet program and graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory with an Acting BFA.

Have you appeared in other Shakespearean productions and who were your favorite roles?

Yes! My favorite is actually a middle school tour show that I did for Young Audiences of VA. The show is roughly an hour long glimpse into Shakespeare’s work which includes scenes from his most known plays. The thing is there is only ONE female and ONE male in the cast. So, I got to play ALL of the women roles! Even the one’s I would never play in real life – like Juliet.

What do you admire most about your fellow cast members’ performances?

I really admire everyone’s willingness to go big or go home. We all really like to find new ideas together. I remember the first day we were on our feet, without even talking about it, Ben and I just dove right on into being cute and couple-like. There’s also a great deal of trust and support that’s been built between the Lover’s when working.

Which character in the play is most like you?

Maybe Hippolyta. I’m quiet and reserved most of the time, but have my opinions. Plus, I often call myself an Amazon.

How can 2013 audiences relate to A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

This story never goes away. Everyone at some point is young. And in love. And adventurous. And passionate. And playful. It doesn’t matter what era we’re in. As long as there’s humans, there’s Love to be experienced in one way or another.

What roles that you haven’t played yet are on your top 5 list?

Now, this type of question always throws me. I honestly do not have a top 5 list. It’s not so much the role I’m playing, but having the opportunity at all to be doing what I love.

Stephen Horst, Ashlyn Thompson, and Ben Lauer,  Photo by  Joshua McKerrow.
Stephen Horst, Ashlyn Thompson, and Ben Lauer, Photo by Joshua McKerrow.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
That love is worth fighting for. And not just romantic love, but any kind of love. Any bond made is worth at least being remembered with a kindness. Love in general is a powerful thing. I know that’s totally a cliche! But it is. Love creates moments that are messy and rough, and you’ll want to give up. But it’s there to be tackled and then embraced. Otherwise, you’d never know what experience your giving up on.
Ashlyn Thompson.
Ashlyn Thompson.

Ashlyn Thompson is a graduate of Shenandoah Conservatory with an Acting BFA. Ashlyn is a working professional in the Balt/DC area as a performer, director, stage manager, and teaching artist. Her performance credits display a wide range.  She is part of the Standardized Patient program at University of Maryland.  In her role as a standard patient, Ashlyn puts her acting talents to work providing realistic scenarios to train upcoming health care providers on the human element of patient careOn the lighter side, Ashlyn is a resident company member of Do or Die Productions, a comic, interactive murder mystery show. She has toured with Young Audiences of Virginia as well as the YOJO show, both of which specialize in theatre for young audiences. Ashlyn credits her tenacity in pursuing the life of a professional artist to the presence of strong mentors in her life. That is why she is dedicated to mentoring young talent as a teaching artist, currently offering classes with Annapolis Shakespeare Company, Chesapeake Arts Center, and the Anne Arundel County Performing and Visual Arts magnet school program. Her first love is Shakespeare, and so she is very excited to join Annapolis Shakespeare company this season.ASC_MND_DCMetro_banner2A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays from December 6-22, 2013 at Annapolis Shakespeare Company performing at the Bowie Playhouse – 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 415-3513, or purchase them online.


Interviews with the director and cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Joel Markowitz on DCMetroTheaterArts:

Meet the Director and Cast of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 1: Director Kristin Clippard.

Meet the Director and Cast of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 2: Nick DePinto (Puck).

Meet the Director and Cast of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 3: Meet Amanda Forstrom (Hermia).

Meet the Director and Cast of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 4: Joel DeCandio (Lysander).


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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.


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