Love. It’s an intoxicating feeling, and sometimes we would do anything to feel that flutter. Maybe even rob a bank. So is that what happened to Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow‘s partner in crime? One group of young actors explored the possibilities.
To prepare for its production of the musical Bonnie and Clyde, the Drama Center’s Livestock Players had to put themselves in the daring shoes of the most infamous bank robbers to follow their tale of love and debauchery. The historical-turned-folklore duo brazenly robbed banks and killed 13 people during The Great Depression.
“Putting myself into Bonnie’s shoes, I definitely wouldn’t kill people, but I think if I had the drive to get away as bad as she did, and I loved Clyde that much, I think I would go with him,” said actress Rachel Walker, 16, a junior at Northwest High and daughter of the recently elected Congressman Mark Walker.
Walker added that though she thinks it was morally wrong to rob banks, it’s hard to know how the Great Depression might have affected her decisions. Walker’s partner on stage, Aaron Boles, 16, a junior at Reidsville High, agreed that desperation might have been a motivator.
“I believe (Clyde) really doesn’t feel like he has too much to lose since he never had too much anyway,” Boles said about his character.
Not only did the two actors contemplate the infamous robbers’ motivation, but they also studied their history, watched documentaries and learned how to relate to their character.
“Clyde is a very cool and collected person the majority of the time,” Boles said. “I do relate to him because (like him) I try to suppress the smaller stuff and hide it behind my upbeat personality. But then there’s a certain point where things break through (and it can come to a head).”
As for Walker, she has much more in common with the glamorous gunslinger.
“She has a very fiery personality like me,” Walker said. She’s also related to the real Bonnie “” the infamous robber is Walker’s great, great cousin.
And just like the real Bonnie and Clyde, these two have formed an inseparable bond.
“We’ve become the closest of friends,” Walker said about her stage partner. “We’ve grown so much together. Sometimes it’s difficult because our friendship is so goofy and it’s hard to keep that off the stage.”
Though they’ve grown close, this is the first time the two have worked together or even met. But they’ve been inseparable from the beginning when they were directed to perform a kissing scene by the director during the call back process of auditions.
“I never really had to do a real stage kiss before,” Boles said. “It wasn’t too bad. It was a little awkward at first, but then once we started working with the team for a while it played out well.”
Walker agreed that it was definitely a surprise for her “” it, too, being her first real stage kiss “” but as the two practiced it
more and more it became less embarrassing and more natural. Now they stage kiss like pros several times each performance.
Besides learning how to kiss on stage, the two say they’ve also learned about the power of love.
“Their relationship is simple but it’s also really complicated,” Boles said about the couple they’re emulating on stage. “I do believe that Clyde does truly love Bonnie and their relationship is very strong.
Clyde could probably get anyone that he wants, and Bonnie could probably get whoever she wants as well, but they never really take advantage of what they could have. They’re 100 percent satisfied with only each other because their love is that powerful.”
Spoken like a confident 16-year-old boy. The musical focuses on the duo, rather than the full Barrow gang, and actually begins with their death. The rest of the play delves into their past, from childhood to criminal-string, and digs into who they were as people.
“This is a show about young people “” young people in love,” said Dan Kelly, director. “It’s a Romeo and Juliet story with a lot more guns.” !
The Drama Center’s Livestock Players are performing Bonnie and Clyde Nov. 20-23 in the Stephen D. Hyers Studio Theatre in the Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St. Tickets are $12-$15 and are available online at theDramaCenter.com or by calling the Triad Stage box office at 272-0160.