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Homewood native looks to Shakespeare to boost career

Omar Amir 'The Murder Plays' by Carly Heiser as presented Illinois State University.  |  Supplied photo

Omar Amir in "The Murder Plays" by Carly Heiser, as presented at Illinois State University. | Supplied photo

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Updated: August 30, 2013 6:09AM



Homewood native Omar Amir has a pretty good idea of where he sees himself in a few years.

And it’s not in Illinois.

“I want to move to L.A. next year,” Amir said. “And make a name for myself.”

Amir, a Homewood-Flossmoor graduate, is well on his way to that dream. He just picked up another key piece to that puzzle this summer.

Amir joined the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, based in Bloomington-Normal, for this summer’s run.

The company has 14 professional actors from around the country, and some have performed in television shows such as “Twin Peaks” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

There are 11 acting interns and 120 employees total.

Amir knows the importance of working at the Festival and how it can lead to bigger things in the future.

He will be shadowing two directors during his time at the festival.

“Everyone knows that you get real world experience doing these things,” Amir said. “You meet people in the business that will help you build more opportunities and chances to work as an artist later.”

Dick Folse, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival’s managing director, said the theater company is a lot like a teaching hospital where theater majors learn about their craft and get hands-on experience.

“He’s a very articulate student and is very interested in learning more about directing,” Folse said. “Shakespeare is significant in that it’s inclusive and we’ve produced his plays for over 400 years. Anyone can see his stories and relate to them.”

Amir’s duties this summer include working in the “front of the house” taking tickets and selling assorted items.

But more important, Amir will be working as an assistant director on two plays, “The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare” and “Comedy of Errors.”

Amir, who will be a senior at Illinois State, has performed as Egeus and Fairy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and as Pascal in “Anon(ymous)” on campus. But he also plans on dabbling in directing on the advice of a professor.

“This directing thing is fairly new,” Amir said. “One of my professors pushed me to try directing. I tried it because of his suggestion.”

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival is in its 36th season.

The company also is performing “Macbeth” and a new play by Philip Dawkins called “Failure: A Love Story.” The festival runs through Aug. 10.



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