By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
William Burke, recent graduate of Ray Elementary School, will star in a production of “Lord of the Flies” in Steppenwolf Theater’s Young Adults 2013-2014 series.
Burke, 14, will play the character Bill in the production, which tells the story of a group of English boys stranded on a deserted island who develop conflicting ideals about survival — civilization vs. savagery — that lead to a perilous outcome.
In addition to attending Ray School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., Burke attended the University of Chicago summer camps and is a member of a music conservatory for classic guitar. He is currently a student at Lincoln Park High School, where he is a double honors student studying performing arts.
Professionally, Burke has been in productions at theaters such as Drury Lane and Lookingglass. He’s appeared on TV shows such as “Chicago Fire” and has done print work for department stores including Kohl’s and JC Penny.
Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ combines play production with educational components to enhance arts education for young audiences, as well as their teachers and families. The program works with Chicago public and metropolitan area schools and other community partners, to give participants from Chicago’s diverse communities exposure to theater. The initiative also includes post-show discussions with artists; classroom residencies led by Steppenwolf-trained teaching artists in more than 30 classrooms at 14 public high schools; professional development workshops for educators; and the Young Adult Council, an innovative year-round after-school initiative that uniquely engages high school students in all areas of the theater’s operations.
“Lord of the Flies” runs from Oct. 16 to Nov. 15. For more information, visit steppenwolf.org.
Q&A with teen actor William Burke
HPH: How did you feel when you found out that you received a role in “Lord of the Flies”?
WB: When I found out that I was cast in “Lord of the Flies,” I became as giddy as a little kid in a candy store. I knew that Steppenwolf was a huge theater and that I would have a lot of fun working on this project. After the initial giddiness I realized I would have to balance rehearsals and shows with my double honors High School work load, but I decided that I would accept the challenge.
HPH: Tell us about the character you play in “Lord of the Flies” and your similarities and differences.
WB: The character I play is Bill, the best friend/minion of Jack Merridew, the main antagonist. My personal take on Bill is that he wants to be exactly like Jack and stay on his good side. I think Bill is not Jack’s friend out of actual love or compassion but because of fear. Similarities between Bill and I are of course the names. I feel like Bill and I both would have accepted the reality that we probably wouldn’t be saved. Some differences between Bill and I are how Bill follows Jack almost without question – different from me as a person because I like to be more of a leader than a follower.
HPH: What are some of your favorite places in Hyde Park and why?
WB: Two of my favorite places in Hyde Park are Kilwins and First Aid Comics. I love Kilwins because the ice cream is so sweet and they do something different with each of their flavors. I also love the huge Moose mascot that comes out randomly to promote Kilwins. What I love about First Aid is they have such a huge variety of comics for a great price. The staff is very knowledgeable and you can tell that they are really into the comics.