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The Folger Spotlight

Zachary Fine: On Staying in the Moment....

He not only plays one of the "two gents..." Zachary Fine also plays Crab the dog. Photo by Teresa Wood.

He not only plays one of the “two gents…” Zachary Fine also plays Crab the dog. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Already we are nearing the final few weeks of our run of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and I’m terrified of it coming to an end. Last week we had some of our best shows yet. The work keeps growing and the company continues to deepen our relationship to the story and to each other. It’s quite thrilling to be part of.

We had a fun talk-back the other night in which a man asked us if we ever get bored of doing the same thing “over and over” each night. It got us all ruminating on the nature of theater, and the challenge of staying present in something that seems familiar each time you do it. With the end of the run on the horizon, I feel that challenge even more poignantly. I want to find a way to stay present in the next few weeks, even though I know that this experience will come to a close and I will have to move on. It’s a bittersweet contract we make when we sign on to do a show. If all goes well (as this has) then you are lulled for a brief period of time into the bliss of fulfillment. Doing Two Gents has been so full and rich an experience, that to let go of it is hard to accept. The theater always functions like this, as a fun house mirror land of reflections and metaphors for what we face in our everyday lives, and perhaps there is no greater lesson to be learned from being in the theater, either as audience member or performer, that the show does indeed end. Not just Two Gents, but THE BIG SHOW we call life. I don’t mean it to sound morbid…it’s just a truth. We are only here for a brief time and then we go. It’s a brutal and complicated contract we must sign and it begs us to tackle the question of how to make hay while the sun still shines.

Zachary Fine and Noah Brody are The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Photo by Jeff Malet.

Zachary Fine and Noah Brody are The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Photo by Jeff Malet.

I feel that gauntlet being thrown down as I enter into this week of shows. How can I enrich this work each night so that I am responsive in the moment? So that I can see things anew and fall in love again each night with my cast mates. If I know it’s going to end and I don’t want it to end, then WHAT THE HECK DO I DO ABOUT THAT?! I’m interested in exploring this question with you over the next few weeks. Not only in the philosophical sense, but also a practical one. What can I do each day to enrich the experience and to remind myself that this day is different from every other day and that there is newness and discovery to be had in each moment? I’ve tried meditation in the past, and may indeed need to try it again, so that my mind doesn’t become fixated on the inevitable end but continually returns to the present moment. If there are things that any of you think of out there that help you stay present in your lives, please share them with me. I’d love to try out any techniques or read anything that inspires you to do this in your own life. Perhaps we can all try some of these techniques out in our lives and our work and check back in about them as the weeks go on? It would be a fun experiment and good challenge for us all, I think.

The cast of "Two Gents" serenades the beautiful Sylvia. Photo by Teresa Wood.

The cast of “Two Gents” serenades the beautiful Sylvia. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Thanks again to all of you who have come out to the Folger Theatre to see the show thus far. The audiences have been excellent and we are thrilled that the response has been so positive. Please feel free to say hello in the lobby after the show or before the show as well. It would be lovely to meet some of you readers and to continue this conversation together.

TWO GENTS runs through Sunday, May 25. To get your tickets, call 202.544.7077 or visit online here.

To read The Washington Post Arts feature on Zachary Fine doubling as Crab the dog, click here.


Hi Zachary, my wife and I were at the play last week. I have never been a fan of Two Gentlemen’ but somehow you and the cast really pulled it off. I was waiting for a real dog, so when you came on stage I laughed loud enough to be self conscious. Thanks for putting on such a great performance. I hope you perform again in DC.

Matt — May 14, 2014

Matt, I’m so glad you had fun at the show. Thanks so much for laughing…I’m sure I heard you and was grateful for the laugh. It helps more than you may know to hear the responsiveness from the audience. I had never been a fan of the play either. After working on it now for a few months, I can say that I’m still not sure if I’m a huge fan of the play or just a fan of the production. I feel really proud of what we’ve been able to find in it and now know that there is lots of beauty to be mined in every one of Shakespeare’s works. Thanks so much for writing on the blog here. It means so much that you would take the time to send a few words. All the best,

Zachary Fine — May 16, 2014