King of fairies

Rio Rancho High School student Matt Garringer is Oberon while Katie Fullinwider plays Titania in Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream."

Matt Garringer says there are a lot of similarities between sports - which he's played - and drama, where he's in a play.

In each, the success depends a lot on teamwork. Just as there are scripted plays for a football team's offense, so, too, is a play scripted. Blocks have to be executed and passes thrown at almost precise times, and characters' lines must be said at the right time, too.

Garringer, lately, has been enjoying the stage more than the field. He's "Oberon, the king of the fairies" for the drama department's fall play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Rio Rancho High School.

"It's really a group effort," Garringer said. "You have to go into (it) knowing that there are no big and little parts, that everything comes together into the show. There's tons of fairies (in this upcoming play), but without them, the show doesn't exist."

"It's a good way to express yourself," he said. "I think you get to show who you really are a lot more through being a different character than playing a sport, but I enjoy both."

Born in New York, but raised in Rio Rancho since he was an infant, he attended Puesta del Sol Elementary, was home-schooled for a few years, then attended Rio Rancho Mid-High before RRHS.

"Matt joined the theater as an ROTC kid just needing another elective," recalled drama teacher and play director Gael Natal. "He quickly became an important part of the group. Last year he tried to juggle sports and theater and was usually successful. We are certainly happy to have him full-time this year."

He's a little different than the typical RRHS senior. His sports of choice have been, in order, fencing, judo and lacrosse.

"I'm unique in the fact that I love old movies, (with) Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin - all those," he said, eagerly awaiting spring tryouts for his favorite musical of all time, "Guys and Dolls."

"I'm going to go for Sky Masterson or Nathan Detroit," he said. He had a small part in "The Wedding Singer" last spring at RRHS.

Even more different: What kid do you know who talks like this? "How canst thou thus for shame, Titania, Glance at my credit with Hippolyta, knowing I know thy love to Theseus? Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night From Perigenia, whom he ravished?"

Yeah, that's one of Garringer's early speaking parts on stage. But, that's the way people talked during Shakespeare's day.

"The memorization of Shakespeare was more difficult than contemporary English, but there's just a flow to it," Garringer said. "When you practice acting, you get used to speaking in all kinds of dialects, jargon.

"This is the role I wanted," Garringer said. "You get to be real powerful - you rule over all the fairies. You basically manipulate the whole story. What I'm doing affects the lovers, fairies, everything except the ‘mechanicals.' "

Garringer said he can be somewhat creative in the role.

"When you get a character, you have the basic; like for Oberon, it's very powerful, very masculine. But I get to put my spin on things," Garringer explained. "Miss Natal tells us when we should be really angry, when you should be indifferent. But, especially the fairy roles, you can create your own character. Basically, there are happy fairies, angry fairies, so there is a lot of customization, based on who you are."

"I've read ‘Hamlet,' ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream.' What else? ‘The Taming of the Shrew,'" he said, when asked what Shakespeare works he's read. "I read ‘Hamlet' and ‘Midsummer Night's Dream' on my own. ‘Taming of the Shrew,' I was told to do. And I have a little bit of experience doing monologues from ‘Macbeth.'"

Garringer said he doesn't mind being what some people might snicker about behind his back: king of the fairies.

"People at this school know me as an athlete, as well as an actor," he said. "I mean, we get respect for what we do. When people see the production and how cool it is, they don't think of me as weird."

Garringer has an interesting future planned: attending the University of New Mexico, majoring in theater and "pursuing a career with the FBI.

"Unless, of course, I get luckily casted by somebody and I can have fun with that."