The play's the thing for this Nevada actress

VIRGINIA CITY - She looks like a high school student walking down the boardwalk in Virginia City: short-cropped hair, loose jeans, a tank top and granny glasses.

But 25-year-old Linnea Wolters will be playing both Ophelia and Horatio for the Nevada Shakespeare Festival's production of "Hamlet," and Hermia in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"Linnea is a talented theater artist with excellent training and strong technique," the company's artistic director, Jeanmarie Simpson, said. "Intellectually solid, a rock of technical ability onstage, and artistically inventive, always creating, building, and making each performance fresh and original."

Wolters said working with this group is the best experience she has had since college.

"I work with this group because I respect them professionally," Wolters said, noting they are both creative and supportive.

She is a bundle of energy, a combination of passion, intelligence and spirit with hazel eyes and dark red hair.

She has been involved in the theater since she was 12 years old, beginning with school productions in her hometown of Fallon. After high school she attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., graduating with a bachelor's degree in theater.

"I had incredible training in college, which gave me strong technique," she said, noting her training makes the transition between roles easy. "It's simply a matter of conjuring up the right image. Ophelia and Horatio (from 'Hamlet') are very different characters, which makes the transition that much easier. "

"Hamlet" and "A Midsummer Nights' Dream" will be performed on alternating weekend nights from Aug. 8 through 20, with previews beginning Aug. 1. Wolters is excited about both productions, and spoke animatedly about them.

"Jeanmarie Simpson sat on this idea for so long ('Hamlet'), waiting for the right combination of actors, and energy. This is a collaboration, a distillation of human elements of 'Hamlet,' stripping the pretense of period and the normal conventions of theater," Wolters said. Sets and costumes are plain but the production itself is powerful and human, involving complex relationships that could be fodder for any daytime talk show: blood, revenge, duplicity and poisoning.

Simpson left the possible element of incest out of this version.

"There is enough going on with Hamlet," Wolters said.

The heavy drama of "Hamlet" alternates with the fantasy-comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream." And while the two productions require tremendous energy, Wolters said it is a pleasure to do both at the same time.

When not acting, she is pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, in elementary education.

She tutors 11-year-olds in reading and works on a research project affiliated with the university concerning literacy: a body of research that supports the idea that language instruction is developmental, and each child has his or her own level of development.

"I love working with younger kids," Wolters said. She presently tutors three 11-year-olds, and enjoys working with them one-on-one.

"They generate the ideas, and say where they're going. We undervalue what kids have to say about their own education."

In her spare time, Wolters enjoys reading, hiking, camping and dealing with her pesky feline.

"When the cat gets cranky, I realize I haven't been home enough," Wolters said.

What: Nevada Shakespeare Festival

When: Aug. 1-Aug. 20, and Sept. 22-Oct. 31, all shows start at 7 p.m.

Where: Piper's Opera House, Virginia City


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