Greg Boover '13 finds a career and a calling at Shakespeare & Co.
By Emma Waldman '20 | Monday, December 4, 2017
By Emma Waldman '20
Monday, December 4, 2017
As he planned what he’d do for college, Greg Boover ‘13 found himself pulled toward UMass Amherst instead of a conservatory so that he could study a range of things. Once on campus, he initially joined the student-run UMass Theatre Guild, working as an actor and on the tech crew for shows during his freshman year. Soon, however, he declared theater as his major and dove into the Department of Theater. He initially also minored in education, but Boover decided to focus more fully on Theater. He started doing all that he could within the department, and he has carried on this way in his professional life with the renowned Shakespeare & Co., contentedly dividing his efforts between on- and offstage work that also allows him to tap back into his education interest.
Through the Department of Theater, Boover was exposed to the wider scope of all of the aspects that go into creating a production. Boover serving on costume and sound crews, stage managing, and more. He valued learning from professors who were invested in having student learn the real backgrounds of Theater history, as well as getting unique opportunities to practice voicework and performance techniques with artists who boasted vast histories of training. An amazing thing about UMass Theater professors, Boover recalled, was their continuous professional engagement — directing professors who continued to direct and sound designers who designed outside of the school, for example.
Boover’s main focus was on acting, and as he developed his skills in other, broader Theater disciplines, he was taking all the performance classes that he could get his hands on and auditioning for every performance he could. He cited luck, opportunity, and ‘putting himself out there’ as factors that allowed him to perform with creators in the department who were “always doing really cutting edge work, looking for something to devise [and] something to recreate, how to tell a story in a new way.”
Boover had lived most of his life intimidated by Shakespeare. But in his time with UMass Theater, he gained confidence and grew to love The Bard, especially through in his experience acting in Twelfth Night in his sophomore year, directed by Dawn Monique Williams, as well as in a course dedicated to the language of Shakespeare with now undergraduate Program Director, Milan Dragicevich.
He also seized the opportunity to work with visiting professors from beyond the department, many of them working artists, and it was one such guest artist who directly influenced what he’s doing today. When Boover was a Junior, then-Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Co. Tony Simotes visited to direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream and teach stage combat. Galvanized by those experiences, Boover auditioned for the company’s summer program and found himself deep in the world of professional repertory theater.
Boover has worked with Shakespeare & Co. ever since. Most recently, in his very first gig as a member of the Actor’s Equity Association professional union, Boover decided that he absolutely had to play Leo, the male lead in Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles, under Nicole Ricciardi’s direction. He described a new clarity he had reached coming out of the Shakespeare & Co.’s month-long Intensive Actors Training Program. In rehearsing for the show, he said, his new insight allowed him to reach new emotional presence and consistency in character development, both in rehearsal and on stage. Reviews of the show agreed with his assessment, with his performance being described by The Berkshire Edge as “near perfection,” while Boston Broadway World called attention to his range in his nuanced portrayal and the great chemistry shared with each of his scene partners. This first AEA experience confirmed for Boover that acting was the right choice as a post-graduate pursuit.
Although he’s identified this passion, Boover is not leaving other paths of theater unexplored. He continues as an educator, helping others find their theater passions as part of the Shakespeare & Co. Fall Festival of Shakespeare. This festival brings Shakespeare and theater to over 500 students in 10 highs schools across Massachusetts and New York engaging them over the course of nine weeks in creating and performing his works. Boover most recently worked with 50 students at Taconic Hills High School in New York on a 90 minute cut of As You Like It. The piece was performed Nov. 16-19 on the Shakespeare & Co. mainstage.
Boover wants to continue this kind of work alongside his passion of acting; he sees it as paying it forward.