Meet Laura Rook

Posted May 2, 2024

Meet Laura

From CanvasRebel | We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Laura Rook a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.

Laura, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Are you happier as a creative? Do you sometimes think about what it would be like to just have a regular job? Can you talk to us about how you think through these emotions?

I am pretty happy as an artist and a creative, but I think about having a regular job all the time. The older I get, the more I crave a routine, security, and consistency. During the pandemic, my husband (who is also an artist) and I went back to working day jobs for the first time in maybe ten years. It was an extremely stressful, awful, scary time, but then was also kind of really wonderful. For the first time in my life, I had paid vacation, sick days, weekends off, and nights off. It was incredible to have dinner together every night and see my family on the weekends. It was two years of always being able to say yes to dinners and birthday parties and holidays like Mother’s Day (not just Christmas). I miss those things. If I could stay creative and have that life, plus access to consistent affordable healthcare, I feel like all my dreams would come true.


Then, in the midst of this awakening, I booked my first Shakespeare play (which also kind of felt like my first professional job) with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. It was the first time I worked as an actor without having to work another job to support myself and it was an incredibly liberating feeling. There were so many of us on that tour who were having a similar experience and we were so excited to be working with such a wonderful company. We all fell in love with each other, and I consider so many of those folks family to this day. Things kind of kept rolling from there into more and more work in classical theater as well as other theaters in Chicago and elsewhere. “XIII pocket” dissolved when we all got too busy, and at that point I was starting to find another artistic home at American Players Theater.

If you don’t know APT, please look it up and come visit (! A true repertory company, producing eight plays simultaneously each summer, APT is about three hours from Chicago, and growing up, I’d had no idea it even existed. I remember arriving in my first season and not being able to believe that this 1100 seat outdoor theater in the middle of the woods would sell out night after night, but it really does! As an actor, you are typically cast in 3 shows a season plus an understudy assignment, and that culture – the access to so many different rehearsal rooms, the volume of on-the-job training, the caliber of artistry, and just the community in which it is centered – has changed my life for the better in countless ways.

I am a believer in “If you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything”, but if you add in doing it outdoors in the heat, rain, and mosquitos, you are really training at a high altitude. We also have an indoor space that allows us to explore more intimate and contemporary work. There is something for everyone every season.

Having APT as an artistic home has also allowed for space for growth and mentorship. It has been a place to explore my curiosity and skill as a director and teacher. I started assistant directing there a couple years back, and directed my first professional production last season in 2023 in our indoor space. I have also worked there as a teaching artist, and have recently been involved in developing a new training program that will hopefully be underway in 2025. I am wildly passionate about continuing to train and teach future generations the beauty and richness of what it is to do these plays and to get to share them in ways that feel relevant and fresh.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Photo by Joe Mazza