You can’t blame Christiane Laskowski and Kyle Racas for being positively giddy when you talk with them.
The two young actors are deep into rehearsals for the play
“Boswell,” which will be performed throughout August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Not only are the University of Wisconsin-Parkside theater students going to Scotland, but they are performing on stage with four professional actors.
“This is an amazing opportunity to work with Equity actors, let alone go all the way to Scotland,” Racas said.
For Laskowski, trying out for “Boswell” was “a no-brainer. It’s an awesome opportunity.”
Racas, a 2015 Central High School graduate, and Laskowski, who just graduated from UW-Parkside in May, are both hoping to enjoy acting careers.
This show is a great start, Laskowski said.
“To be working on an Equity show right after graduation is unbelievable,” she said. Actors’ Equity is the union representing more than 50,000 actors and stage managers nationwide.
Her biggest challenges in the show — in which she and Racas both take on several roles — “is having to become those different characters,” she said. “You have to vary your voice with a lot of different accents, and you have to put a lot into the characters. I have a lot of quick character changes, including going from a very posh woman, with upright posture, to an outspoken tavern girl.”
Racas said “getting the voices and the accents right” are the key to nailing his multiple characters in “Boswell.”
His characters include a Scottish taxi driver with a thick accent, which is the basis of a running joke in the show.
“Even the other characters can’t understand what he’s saying,” Racas said.
The actors are all working with dialect coach Clare Haden for “Boswell.”
“This show has a lot of dialects,” Haden said, rattling a list that includes Scottish, Cockney, Latin and Scottish Gaelic.
At the festival
In Edinburgh, “Boswell” will be performed once a day, at 4:30 p.m., six days a week, from Aug. 2-24.
While that will keep the “Boswell” troupe plenty busy, they are also planning excursions.
“I’m just going to walk into other venues and see what other people are performing at the festival,” Racas said. He’s also hoping to go to London at least once.
Laskowski wants to explore Scotland’s capital, where “Boswell” is set.
On stage, they are thrilled to be interacting with Milwaukee actors Laura Gordon, Brian Mani, Brian Gill — who is also a UW-Parkside theater professor — and Abbey Siegworth.
“They know so much and have been doing this for so long,” Racas said. “They act with a great air of experience and confidence, and I just love watching them work. I am learning so much from watching them and working with them; this show is a collaboration.”
Laskowski found working with professional actors “a little intimidating, but they’re all so supportive. These were people up on pedestals, but meeting them and working with them is amazing. We’re all working to make the show the best it can be.”
Both young actors are hoping to come back from the Fringe Festival with a wealth of knowledge.
“This will be in a once in a lifetime experience,” Laskowski said. “I am going to soak it up.”
For his part, Racas said he’s thrilled “to step outside the college world. It’s always nice to have a different viewpoint on work you’re trying to perfect. We’re getting to perform with a stage full of Equity actors.”
Now that Laskowski has graduated, she’s looking to continue performing, which she’s done since starting in theater at age 8.
“I just love being on stage,” said the Lake Zurich, Ill., native. “Theater feeds my creativity, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”
Racas first started acting in high school, saying “it feeds the artist in me, along with the goofy side of me and the philosophical side of me.”
Both actors also enjoy learning the history that goes along with a play like “Boswell,” which is filled with real historical figures.
“The writing in this show is so rich,” Racas said. “Marie (Kohler, the playwright) takes the history and jumps it around, with the story moving between the 1950s and the 1760s as a character reads Boswell’s journals.”
Laskowski — who gushed “I love this show” — said, at its heart, “Boswell” is a celebration of friendship.
When asked why someone should come to see “Boswell” — at the free UW-Parkside performance, if you’re not heading to the Fringe Festival — Racas said it’s “a good time at the theater: The cast is great; the story is great; and you can have fun with the language.”
Laskowski added that audience members will “learn a bit about Scottish culture and history, and you don’t have to understand it all to enjoy it.”