Student theatre tackles the Bard
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 14:03
To memorize 97 minutes worth of Shakespearean verse, E-52 theater group members ran lines while video-chatting two to three times a week during winter session.
"The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged," directed by sophomore Angel VanBennekom and junior Kathleen Harris, featured five student actors and opened curtains over the weekend in Bacchus Theatre.
"[Video-chatting] was amazingly beneficial in memorization of lines, but intensely frustrating," VanBennekom stated in an email message.
The play was cast in December, but VanBennekom said the actors didn't rehearse while physically together until returning to campus for spring semester.
E-52 is entirely run by students, and their play's first act included "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Macbeth," while its second act focused on "Hamlet."
"All of our productions are student-proposed and student-directed, which is part of what makes the process so amazing," VanBennekom said. "It's students learning from and teaching other students."
"Shakespeare Abridged" is the first play Harris has directed, but VanBennekom has experience in the area, having directed Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" in the past.
"My thespian heart will always lie in directing first and foremost," she said. "I hope one day to make a professional career out of it."
According to Harris, the students share only their common theater interest. Members' majors include English, education and criminal justice, among others.
Some group members said working together and building chemistry was their favorite part of performing the play.
"We work off each other so well and make each other funny," said freshman Emily Kinslow, a cast member.
Sophomore Hayley Pass, another one of the actors, said the group was supportive.
"Everyone has each other's back if we forget something," Pass said.
Rich Shockley and Lilian Straub, both from New Jersey, said they traveled to the university to see the show and support sophomore Scott Bass, another cast member. "It was good. It was funny," Shockley said. "We know Scott, he's a bit of an oddball."
Kinslow said she was pleased with the audience's reaction.
"I'm a perfectionist when it comes to well-timed comedy," she said. "It's a good day if I've made someone laugh."
Creative writing processor Jeanne Walker, who didn't attend opening weekend, stated in an email message that she is familiar with the play and may attend future performances.
"I love Shakespeare Abridged," Walker said. "Not only do they acquaint audiences with Shakespeare's plays, they also fool around with time and pacing."
Walker, a self-described fan of Shakespeare, said she admires his plot lines said he holds significant influence over modern writers.
"Shakespeare is awesome," Walker said. "The plots plunge us into the real nitty-gritty of human relationships. If an adaptation of a Shakespeare play does that, it works."
The play will continue with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Bacchus Theatre, located in Perkins Student Center.
VanBennekom said the play helps connect a contemporary audience with the 16th-century playwright.
"It's hilarious, it's energetic," she said. "It makes people excited about Shakespeare."