Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 5: Daven Ralston

In Part 5 of a series of interviews with the cast of Avant Bard’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, meet Daven Ralston.

Daven Ralston. Photo courtesy of Avant Bard.
Daven Ralston. Photo courtesy of Avant Bard.

Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on stage?

Daven: I was last performing Snow Day with Arts on the Horizon this holiday season, but unless you’re four years old or have a four-year-old you probably weren’t at that show. :-) I was also in Avant Bard’s production of Friendship Betrayed in the fall.

Why did you want to be part of the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Avant Bard?

I’ve only worked with Randy once before, at YPT, and I was really excited at the opportunity to work with him again. I love his work, it’s always very challenging and visually brilliant, and I was super excited about the concept for this show, how much I didn’t know about the concept, and how much I would learn and discover in the process of creating the show.

Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to her? 

I play Puck. In this version of Midsummer, Puck’s story is much more than just the traditional mischievous chaos fairy she usually is portrayed as. Yes, she is all of those things, but (to not give away any specific spoilers) she is also telling the story of searching for one’s identity, discovering who she is and what it means to be human. Those are questions I struggle with and answer every day for myself. I also really admire her naivete and the pureness of her reactions to and thoughts about the world: it’s rejuvenating.

Puck (Daven Ralston). Photo by Teresa Castracane Photography.
Puck (Daven Ralston). Photo by Teresa Castracane Photography.

What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?

Woof, that’s hard to answer without giving away what I think is so unique about my character in this production of Midsummer. But for her the show is about, in more or less general terms, discovery. That’s what motivates her, her curiosity and need to discover.

Director Randy Baker has reimagined the show with shadow puppets and a percussion orchestra. For you as a performer, what’s new and different about it, and what are you enjoying about it?

Everything is new and different!!! The show itself and the major themes themselves are different, not in drastic ways that means the play no longer makes sense, but these new elements of shadow puppets and music have actually drawn out these unseen and unexplored themes in the play that were always there but I feel haven’t really been explored in other productions of Midsummer. At least in no productions that I’ve seen. Also, each of us doing music, puppets, and acting all at the same time throughout the two-plus hours of the show has been a serious challenge, but it’s awesome and we have such a strong ensemble that the final product is really fantastic.

What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?

My favorite of Puck’s lines, at least right now, is her “Up and Down” monologue. Which is funny because initially I was really stuck by this speech. But now I love it. You’ll see why. ;-)

Favorite line someone else says in the show, hmm, probably when Lysander calls Hermia a bead and an acorn. Not only is it hilarious but also, like, why is that the insult that gets her to be quiet?

Joel: What are you doing next on the stage?

I’m auditioning for a couple exciting projects at the moment, so we’ll see!

What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

I want them to leave feeling like they just saw Midsummer for the first time.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays through February 7, 2016, at Avant Bard performing at Guston Arts Center, Theatre Two – 2700 South Lang Street,  in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 418-4808, or purchase them online.

Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 1: Annalisa Dias.

Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 2: Jon Jon Johnson.

Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 3: Zach Brewster-Geisz.

Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Part 4: Linda Bard.

Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 5: Daven Ralston.

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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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