Stephanie Holladay Earl is Patrick Earl's wife.
She has been his lover. She is also his mother. And, at one point in time, she was his sister.
Patrick said they don't let it get weird, though, and it doesn't affect their marriage. It just comes with the territory of acting for the American Shakespeare Center.
"Here's the weird thing - I thought it would be strange, but once we started rehearsing it kind of became about the work rather than our actual relationship outside the play," he said, referring to the couple's roles as mother and son in the company's touring production of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
Patrick and Stephanie, along a cast of talented actors from the American Shakespeare Center, will perform "Hamlet" Friday evening at the Scottish Rite Temple on Capitol Street, as a part of the 2014-15 Method in Madness Tour.
Patrick, who will play the melancholy Prince of Denmark, said he found a love and appreciation for Shakespeare's works when he was pursuing a MFA degree in acting at the University of Houston nearly six years ago.
"I really, really loved speaking the text of Shakespeare and getting to the heart of what makes these characters human," he said.
It was also at the university where he met and fell in love with his wife, and the couple has worked and traveled together with the American Shakespeare Center consistently ever since.
Patrick said being married to another actor can pose some "cool possibilities" on the job as well as some great difficulties. Actors have to travel to different cities in their line of work to get jobs, he said, which can often separate couples and cause some friction in a long-distance relationship.
"But for Stephanie and me it hasn't been that way," he said.
He said it is rewarding to be able to travel the country and create memories together.
"It's this cool professional life/permanent honeymoon we're on ... I think for me it's kind of a dream come true that I'm doing work I'm proud of and I get to share that with my best friend," he said.
Patrick said getting an opportunity to portray Hamlet also is a dream come true.
"Hamlet" was the first production he saw at the American Shakespeare Center before he was hired as a professional actor.
Patrick watched and admired the actors on stage, but said he never thought he would have an opportunity to play the famous character.
It hasn't been easy. He said playing a well-known character and living up to audience expectations is a lot of work, especially at the American Shakespeare Center.
Patrick said actors have a very specific way of developing their characters.
Before rehearsals begins, actors have to memorize their lines and be able to perform without a script. On the first day they get to practice with other actors. Then, the following day, they must perform for directors and a small audience.
The actors only have a week and a half to two weeks of rehearsal before they hit the road and start performing in front of an audience.
When Patrick sits down with the script to begin to memorize his lines, he reads it over and over studying lines intently to discover who his character really is.
"I like to dig into the text and not only see what other characters say about my character, but what the lines mean to me as a person in particular," he said. "I figured if I attacked the character in a way that would make sense to me, then the choices I made onstage would be more human."
Once performance time rolls around, the actors hit the stage and present the play in an unconventional way.
The American Shakespeare Center follows the basic principles of Renaissance theatrical productions and presents shows to audience members the way it would have been performed in Shakespeare's day.
Sara Vazquez, the troupe manager and assistant director for the Method in Madness Tour, said one of the main differences audience members will experience is universal lighting.
By leaving the house lights on during performances, actors will be able to engage with audience members in a way that will make them feel more included in the production. It also helps pull audience into the performance and helps them understand the dialogue better.
She said they hope to abolish "Shakes-fear" through this type of interactive play.
"We employ a lot of Shakespeare's staging conditions. That's kind of what the company was founded on," Vazquez said. "It's fun to watch somebody else react...it can be as simple as taking a question out to an audience member, high-fiving somebody in the front row or using them to hide behind. That's the way we think it should be done."
She said during this six-month long tour she hopes people will fall in love with Shakespeare and have a wonderful time.
Patrick said people should come to the play with an open mind, relax and enjoy the show.
"I think we think of Shakespeare and 'Hamlet'...as extremely tragic. But Hamlet is funny. The lead character is very smart and he lets the characters on stage and the audience know he's funny," he said. "I think our production is a really strong one, and when you come in with an open mind you can make new discoveries and insights as an audience member that you haven't done before."
There will be a pre-show performance starting at 7 p.m. which will feature actors playing live acoustic music on stage by contemporary artists like Foo Fighters, Kansas and Gnarls Barkley.
The actual performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and over, and $10 for students. They are available at the door or in advance at Taylor Books with a small fee added.
The American Shakespeare Center will also host an adult/teacher workshop Saturday morning as a part of FestivALL Fall.
Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.