Playing in a Theater Near You: Actor and Professor Edward Gero

Posted: November 12, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Emily Sharrer

Associate Professor of Theater Edward Gero is not your typical academic. In fact, one might go as far as to say that Gero, performing in his 25th season at Washington, D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, warrants his own adage: those who can, do, and those who can, also like to teach.

Gero, who has been teaching theater at Mason since 1991, is well versed in practicing what he preaches. Not only does Gero teach a full course load, but the four-time Helen Hayes award-winning actor moonlights in Shakespearean, contemporary and musical theater.

“When I came to George Mason, what I brought to the university was actually the experience of being a professional actor,” says Gero. “I’ve been in Washington for 25 years, so balancing life and career has been part of my responsibilities. To act as a role model to students and bring professional standards to the classroom has been my mission. It doesn’t feel like work.”

Stacy Keach and Edward Gero in King Lear
Stacy Keach, left, as King Lear and Edward Gero as Gloucester in Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”
Photo courtesy of Edward Gero

Gero, who joined the Mason faculty in 1990, has performed in New York, in regional theater, on television and in films.

The teacher by day and actor by night is also a member of the Actor’s Equity and the National Committee for Standards in the Arts. You might just recognize him from his local performances at Mason’s Theater of the First Amendment, the Studio Theatre, Round House Theatre or Olney Theatre Center.

“It’s awesome that working in Washington I get to work with actors from around the world, and not often, but from time to time, break out onto the national stage,” says Gero.

Gero, who has been featured in more than 55 Shakespeare Theatre productions, most recently starred as Horace Vandergelder in “The Matchmaker” at Center Stage, a leading professional theater company in Baltimore, Md.

The play opened in September, so Gero had to make trips to Baltimore on the weekends while successfully juggling a three-course class load at Mason. However, when the production ended last month, Gero’s acting days were far from over.

Center Stage recently named the Mason professor an associate artist, meaning that both the theater and Gero plan to collaborate on other productions in the future.

In addition, the veteran thespian has two upcoming theater appearances. From Jan. 14 to Feb. 22, Gero will star in the Broadway comedy “The Seafarer,” at Washington, D.C.’s Studio Theatre. This coming summer he’ll appear alongside actor Stacy Keach in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of “King Lear” beginning June 16.

And that’s not all. Gero also enjoys doing voice recordings for Discovery Channel documentaries. He narrated one that will air this month called “The President’s Guide to Science.”

“I do that pretty regularly,” says Gero. “There was a writer who worked for Discovery Channel who has one foot in the professional world as a renaissance scholar and also writes scripts for Discovery documentaries.” The two developed a relationship after Gero spoke to a class that the writer brought to the Shakespeare Theatre.

“That started a long relationship with the producers at Discovery Channel,” says Gero.

Surprisingly, Gero’s acting commitments have rarely taken a toll on his teaching career, though flying back and forth between Chicago and D.C. during a production of “King Lear” took a toll on the actor.

“It is hectic, but I get a chance to practice what I’m teaching and show the students I can hold my feet to the fire,” says Gero. “It’s very exciting and rewarding. It all comes back to the classroom…certainly in the performing arts you can’t teach it unless you can do it whether it be painters or dancers or musicians. Teaching and doing actually go hand in hand.”

Besides boasting a full acting and teaching schedule, Gero still found time recently to visit Italy with his wife Marjike, a special educator for D.C. public schools, and 20-year-old son Christian, a junior at Northwestern University.

“I’m very grateful to express all my passions in the theater, in teaching and in language translating and being able to have a successful balance between a career as an artist and teacher and family life,” says Gero. “It’s a great gift, and I only hope that by example I can show that it’s possible to have a rewarding and fulfilling life. Thanks to Mason, it’s been possible.”

This article appeared in a slightly different format in the Oct. 6, 2008, edition of Broadside, Mason’s student newspaper. Sharrer is Broadside style editor.

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