By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsJune 10, 2019
As actors don fairy wings, flowery dresses and Scottish kilts in preparation for rehearsal, Malik Walker goes over his lines.
"First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point," Walker recites as a fellow actor banters with him in other parts of Scene II of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Walker enjoys his job as a bridge crewmember at 502nd Multi-Role Bridge, Company, 19th Engineer Battalion; but he also likes acting.
"It's the best of both worlds being a Soldier and an actor," Walker said during a recent Friday night dress rehearsal at Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, Kentucky.
One of the newest members of Hardin County Playhouse, Walker said acting has been in his blood since an early age.
"I've always wanted to get involved in acting," said Walker. "I'm from New York City, and acting is everywhere there. Everywhere you looked, there was something being filmed or recorded; street actors performing. I was drawn to that; I thought that was cool."
Walker said he started pursuing acting while in high school. It wasn't until after he joined the Army and moved to Fort Knox that he was able to get more involved. That first encounter, according to the play's producer, Shameca Freeman, came over a year ago when Walker showed up to learn during a theatre appreciation class.
Freeman said Walker pulled her aside after the class and asked if he could get more involved, so she assigned him to work on the set of a Christmas play.
The Shakespeare role of Nick Bottom in the playhouse's latest play is his first acting role with them; Freeman said while he tends to overthink his role a bit, he is getting good at it.
"I'm trying to get him to learn to go with it more; react rather than trying to analyze everything," said Freeman.
Considered one of Shakespeare's most beloved of comedy plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream is a busy romp in the murky waters of love, especially when fairies get involved behind the scenes. According to various sites devoted to Shakespearean theatre, the play centers around the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Greece -- Theseus, and former Amazon queen Hippolyta.
Walker's character is one of six amateur actors, called mechanicals, who are controlled in the forest by the fairies, where much of the play is set. Chaos quickly becomes the norm as four different but interconnecting plots frolic together in lighthearted fun.
One of the main characters -- as the guy who turns into a donkey -- Walker said it is a privilege to take on such a challenging role, or any role for that matter.
"I don't want to be the center of attention, but I like being there and having people enjoy what you do for fun," Walker said. "I like to talk so I thought, 'Why not put that to good use?'"
Walker said he sees a lot of correlation between the world of acting and being a Soldier in the U.S. Army.
"In the military, you have military bearing; you know discipline, right from wrong, what to say, what not to say how to show respect, and how to give respect," said Walker. "It's the same if you're working in a company of a theatre, or working on a stage or a set. There's a chain of command, there's rules to follow; you can't always do what you want to do.
"I find that using what I've learned in the military works with what else I want to do someday -- have an acting career."
Freeman said Walker is talented enough that she is already scheming ways to have him act in future plays. When he gets out of the Army someday to pursue a career in acting, something on which he already has his sights--
"I really think he can make it as an actor," said Freeman. "He's super talented and a dream to work with."
(Editor's Note: "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will perform at Radcliff City Park two nights only; June 22-23. As part of Shakespeare in the Park, the festivities will begin each day at 3 p.m., culminating with the performance beginning at 7 p.m. Admission to the festival is $5, which includes the entertainment and play.)