Actors, Married For 35 Years, Enrich Their Lives With Others' Words

Aug 23, 2018
Originally published on August 23, 2018 11:40 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So rehearsals and performances for plays can be so intense that actors and actresses sometimes fall in love. There's even a term for this - the showmance. One couple has kept their showmance going for 35 years. They're members of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and they spoke about their life as married actors in a garden outside the Tent Theater in Garrison, N.Y.

KURT RHOADS: My name's Kurt Rhoads.

NANCE WILLIAMSON: And I'm Nance Williamson.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE THEATRE COMPANY, LONDON'S "ENTR'ACTE: THE GOD OF LOVE (GENTIL MADONNA) (ANON ITALY 16C)")

RHOADS: We met in Dallas, Texas. We got cast as Orlando and Rosalind, "As You Like It." The director told us we didn't have any chemistry, so I remember we went out and...

WILLIAMSON: Climbed trees.

RHOADS: ...Climbed trees and did our lines up in trees.

WILLIAMSON: Six months later, we were married.

RHOADS: Right.

WILLIAMSON: Kind of fell in love using Rosalind and Orlando in the Forest of Arden as our wooing fields.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE THEATRE COMPANY, LONDON'S "ENTR'ACTE: THE GOD OF LOVE (GENTIL MADONNA) (ANON ITALY 16C)")

WILLIAMSON: It's like no other theater because there is this backdrop of the Hudson River Valley. It's always breathtaking.

RHOADS: Every night has its own unique experience.

WILLIAMSON: Not to mention weather and rain and bugs and all that. There's been little skunks that have come up this year.

RHOADS: Yeah. This year, there's a mother with seven babies.

WILLIAMSON: They never get too close to the tent, but they sort of nibble on the crumbs of the picnickers beforehand. So it's just (laughter).

RHOADS: I've been here 21 years.

WILLIAMSON: And I think this is my 18th.

RHOADS: I think it's 19th now.

WILLIAMSON: Is it 19th?

RHOADS: I think you're two behind.

WILLIAMSON: Oh, gosh.

RHOADS: Antony is probably my favorite role ever.

WILLIAMSON: Is it?

RHOADS: I think there's such great language and a lot of dysfunction and a lot of egos involved, but it's my favorite.

WILLIAMSON: Well, it's such a sexy play. And it's so funny. And it's so familiar, even though it's Antony and Cleopatra. Their banter back and forth is recognizable to all married people (laughter).

(As Cleopatra) Antony, Antony. Let's draw him hither.

RHOADS: (As Antony) I am dying, Egypt, dying. Only I here importune death awhile, until of many thousand kisses the poor last I lay upon thy lips.

WILLIAMSON: (As Cleopatra) Oh, come, come, come. And welcome, welcome. Die when thou has lived, quickened with kissing. Had my lips that power, thus would I wear them out.

RHOADS: (As Antony) I am dying, Egypt, dying.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE THEATRE COMPANY, LONDON'S "ENTR'ACTE: THE GOD OF LOVE (GENTIL MADONNA) (ANON ITALY 16C)")

WILLIAMSON: I feel so lucky that we have been able to kind of weather not only 35 years together but able to enrich a married life by using other people's lines and other people's words. There's something that kind of fleshes everything out beyond, did you let the cat in, you know, at the end of the day.

RHOADS: Well, 65 plays together, you know, I'm proud of that. That's such a huge number. I think part of the key is to make the work very important and to make the marriage very important, and they don't have to negate each other.

WILLIAMSON: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE THEATRE COMPANY, LONDON'S "ENTR'ACTE: THE GOD OF LOVE (GENTIL MADONNA) (ANON ITALY 16C)")

GREENE: Kurt Rhoads and Nance Williamson, members of the acting company at the The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Jeff Lunden produced that postcard. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.