A week before opening night I sat down with actors, Matt Provance, Zach Goubeaux, and Director Brennan Jones to talk about how they prepare to take on all 37 works of William Shakespeare in just 100 minutes.
“Shakespeare is easy. Comedy is hard” Director Brennan Jones says with a casual laugh, “That is to say – while tackling all of Shakespeare’s plays is a Herculean task, it has to be funny.”
Jones knows that some of the projects are just touched on, for example Coriolanus is a name mention. He continues, “I can certainly say I haven’t read all of the Complete Works, and neither have our actors. We do spend some time discussing what’s happening in relation to the larger plays we cover: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, Macbeth, and others are covered in some depth. However, that really just scratches the surface. Once we understand the small scene from the play that we’re condensing, it’s on to the comedy. That’s where things get difficult. And fun.”
Theatre director and producer Davide Migliorisi selected the piece as his introductory production because, “I loved the fun atmosphere that it presented, and how it consisted of quick-fire humor.”
As an outsider I see a small cast and think that there is no room to hide but the actors are veterans of the Bard’s work and seem to love the reduced cast size.
Matt Provance has performed many of the classics and loves the works for the language: “I am always looking for more chances to play Shakespeare and his contemporaries.”
Zach Goubeaux shares the past experience and a desire to focus on the work of Shakespeare: “I’ve previously performed the The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged!) several times, in addition to performing other “straight” versions of the Bard’s works. Having been made to read Shakespeare’s works prior to lampooning them – prepared me for the first time I performed Complete Works, and has made it exponentially easier to perform successive versions ever since.”
Brennan Jones adds, “I love working with small casts. There’s so much potential for camaraderie and chemistry to build within the group, and it really allows for rehearsal to become a collaborative environment. This cast has bonded to a level where they almost seem to know what the others are thinking.”
Zach agrees: “I’ve been fortunate that in the brief period of time I’ve gotten to spend with Jason and Matt, we’ve been able to gel as a group, bringing what had been established prior to my joining the cast and integrating it with what I brought to the table in order to create a comedic whirlwind of crazy costume changes, wacky voices and terrible, terrible wigs.”
How did the actors prepare for this? Matt said it best: “(We) just had to do it.”
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged!) plays this weekend, August 14-16, 2-15, at The District Players performing at Lee District Park – 6601 Telegraph Road, in Alexandria, VA. Purchase tickets online.
Friday, August 14, 2015 at 6:30 PM
Saturday, August 15th at 2 PM and 6:30 PM
Sunday, August 16, 2015 at 2 PM and 6:30 PM