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Second-Grader Meg Hoglund Makes Acting Debut in 'Fences'
Posted 02/28/2017 12:20AM

Meg Hoglund, a second-grade student at Rowland Hall, made her acting debut last month in Pioneer Theatre Company’s (PTC) production of Fences. Meg played the role of Raynell in this August Wilson play that won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play, and was recently made into a movie starring and directed by Denzel Washington. PTC, one of Salt Lake City’s four professional theater companies, received rave reviews from local media outlets for its production of Fences. We spent some time with Meg and her mother, Libby Mitchell ’92, to find out more about our young thespian’s experience.

Meg’s takeaway advice: You will never know if you can do something until you try.

Q: How did Meg become interested in acting? How did she become interested in this role?

L: Meg found out about the part from a Rowland Hall parent who had heard that Pioneer Theatre was looking for an actress her age for the part of Raynell. We put the word out to families we know from Meg’s transracial adoption playgroup. Five girls auditioned, and Meg got the part.

Q: Why did Meg want to be involved in this show?

L: Meg loves singing and dancing. Since a young age, Meg has loved attending live performances. She comes to every performance at the middle and upper schools and loves watching the musicals, dance concerts, and band and orchestra performances, but especially the plays. She enjoyed being on stage last winter at the Black Social Change event at the Upper School. The idea of being in a play sounded fun to Meg.

Q: How did Meg prepare for the role of Raynell? 

L: Meg has still not seen the entire performance of Fences, not even the movie. As her parents, we gave Meg some context for the character; like that she is a hopeful character after some really intense scenes, that she welcomes her brother Cory back into the family, and that her character is sassy like her.

Q: What was the real-life relationship between Meg and the other cast members like?

L: This was the most powerful part of the experience for Meg. The black affinity, and closeness established through a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule was magical. One night after leaving a performance Meg said, “I sure love those folks.” They referred to themselves as the “Fences family,” and they welcomed Meg immediately. The cast gathered for Sunday dinners. JJ, who played Raynell’s brother Cory, screened a film at the Sundance Film Festival, so he stayed with us for nearly a week after the show. Meg would tease JJ like all little sisters do to big brothers.

Q: What is one thing you can tell us about the process that most people might not be aware of?

L: Meg would not get to the theater each night until about 10 minutes before intermission. Her handler, Emily, took her backstage and stayed with her there through the costuming process and the show. Parents of actors are only allowed backstage during rehearsals.

Q: How many performances did Meg do?

L: With dress rehearsals, Meg did 23 full performances, including two shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Rowland Hall’s Upper School English and theatre classes went to see the show. The whole cast of Fences came to an Upper School assembly and performed three scenes and talked about the play and what it’s like to be a professional actor.

Q: Meg, tell me about yourself? Favorite hobbies, interests, pets?

M: I like to do gymnastics. My favorite thing is to do back handsprings. I love the new Annie movie. I have two dogs, Sweetie and Sally. I like reading and writing at school. I am in Katie Schwab’s second-grade class.

Q: How did you feel the first time you went on stage as Raynell?

M: I felt a little bit creeped out. I didn’t feel comfortable yet. I had only done holiday programs at school before. I would pretend nobody was in the theater to feel better.  

Q: What is the last thing you did before you went out on stage?

M: When the cue light went off Emily (my dresser) would say, “On your mark, get set, go!” We had to go down the stairs from my dressing room pretty quickly so we would get there on time.

Q: Tell us something that a cast member taught you.

M: Gayle (who played my mom) taught me there is no such thing as being too loud on stage.

Q: What did you learn from this experience?

M: Afterwards your throat can hurt from all the loudness. You can’t be scared on stage.

Q: What is your advice to aspiring actors?

M: If you want to be in play, do it. Don’t be afraid, be nice, and have hope. You have to try out. The only way you definitely won’t get the part is if you don’t try.

Q: Do you think you will act again?

M: Yes, I do. I want to be in a movie.

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