“All the world’s a stage, and all the people …. Something, something…” — Me
Usually, it’s suggested to start a body of writing with a profound quotation that truly speaks to the depths of not only the subject matter, but humanity in general. This summer my company — Trident Theatre — aims to do just that … to a greater or lesser degree, for your comedic delight. For my first full-length production under Trident Theatre, I will be presenting “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised],” a parodic delving into the full canon of the greatest writer the English language has ever known.
For those of you that may be unfamiliar, the title of this article comes from a musical number in the classic musical comedy, “Kiss Me Kate.” In the scene, some members of the troupe find themselves onstage in musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” and have virtually no idea what’s going on. So, they make it up as they go along, and make it seem as if they had planned to do what they did onstage from the beginning. If I were to encapsulate the essence of the play we’ll be presenting … it would almost be exactly that.
Let me clarify: No matter when a company produces a Shakespearean play, there will almost always be an element of the production that may be lost on a contemporary audience. It could be that the plays come from a different time period in which the manner of staging plays was quite different than today. Most people (audiences and actors alike) hesitate to do Shakespeare because of the language barrier. That almost always sounds funny to me, as it’s not a different language; it’s just that he knew how to use it so well.
However, I think a lot of the “lost in translation” feeling has to do with the preconceived notion that it almost takes an encyclopedic knowledge of history, mythology and vocabulary in order to “get” Shakespeare.
So, to set the stage for our production, the idea of performing the entirety of Shakespeare in a single sitting should come across as a tad ambitious, to say the least. In a line taken directly from the text: “… we are about to attempt a feat that we believe to be unprecedented in the history of civilization.” So, are we approaching the area of not only hyperbolic, but utterly improbable? I hope you’re nodding your head.
We do mean to encapsulate the “je ne sais quoi” of the full breadth of the Shakespearean tome, but more than anything to exhibit the utter enjoyment of live theater altogether.
Again, allow me to elaborate. One of my favorite qualities of live theater is not only the audience’s expectation of the “willing suspension of disbelief,” the concept that the audience will believe the “truth” of what is seen on stage for the time that the play is performed, but also the sleight of hand that goes on. At any time in live theater, something could and almost always does go wrong, but the play turns out just fine in the end.
We’re telling you right now that we’re going to accomplish something within an hour and a half that is, by standard definition, impossible. The hope is that, by the end, we’ve managed to do what we set out to do. What we will accomplish is giving you a sore gut from laughing at us, which in this circumstance, is entirely appropriate. It is a comedy, after all.
Trident will present “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]” at the Carriage House Theatre Thursdays through Sundays Aug. 3-13. Please follow us on Facebook (“Trident Theatre”), Twitter (@tridenttheatre), or at our website (www.tridenttheatre.com) for further information on ticketing and showtimes.
I’ll see you at intermission!