By MEGAN HUSSEY
William Shakespeare has been called “not only one of the best playwrights of his time, but of ours too.” The 2015 Guardian article Teen Opinion: Why Reading Shakespeare Should Be Fun, states that “His works reveal something about ourselves that other writers don’t show – and that’s why teens shouldn’t dismiss him as ‘old’.”
Ah, but is Shakespeare indeed fun?
Through its Shakespeare on the Green series, Live Oak Theatre aims to make the works of William Shakespeare–not only more understandable to a mass audience–but more fun, as well.
The Bard Unleashed will be presented October 9-11, 16-18, and 23-25, outdoors at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville.
“Worlds collide in this non-traditional Shakespearean presentation. Audiences will be taken on a literary journey through a variety of the Bard’s works featuring comedy, tragedy, betrayal and star-crossed love,” read a related news release. “You’ll experience them all, with a few modern twists and turns along the way, making the unfamiliar, familiar.”
Tickets are now on sale for “THE BARD UNLEASHED,” which–according to co-director Ron Dykes–will feature key scenes from the Bard’s all-time classics, each of which will boast creative accents relatable to a modern audience:
ROMEO AND JULIET – several scenes condensed, including the balcony scene
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – scene in the Enchanted Forest, with a twist
MACBETH – entire play condensed into 15 minutes
HAMLET (TO BE OR NOT TO BE speech) – “as you’ve never seen it”
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW – Petruchio and Katharina meet
OTHELLO – the murder of Desdemona
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – the gulling of Beatrice; dialogue modernized
HENRY IV PART 1 – Falstaff in all his glory
“The cast is working very hard at making this the usual fun and enjoyable experience that our audiences have come to expect from us,” said theatre spokesman Vince Vanni.
These timeless plays will come imbued with youthful energy, this owing to the fact that all featured performers are aged 15 to 22, save for one parent narrator.
“This way we can introduce students to the elements of Shakespeare,” said co-director Kyle Marra, “It’s a good challenge.”
Indeed, aside from their acting duties, young actors were encouraged to add their own interpretations to their delivery of dialogue, their characters, and even sword fight choreography.
“If a cast member had an idea about how something should be done,” said Marra, “They would suggest it. And I would say, ‘Let’s give it a try’.”
This outdoor production, with full sets and costumes, promises to be enjoyable for viewers of all ages.
“We go from drama and tragedy to crazy comedy,” said Marra. “And while we preserve the words of Shakespeare, we add narration to give context and make it more approachable.”
This often comedic narration, said Marra, at times could be voiced in the style of a 1930s boxing announcer, or perhaps of Twilight Zone host Rod Serling.
“I can neither confirm nor deny,” said Marra.
Throughout the history of theatre, outdoor productions of Shakespearean works always have claimed a special place in the classic canon. The preserved Globe Theatre in London, one of the Bard’s original theatres first opened in 1599, is a famous open air venue , New York’s Shakespeare in the Park productions debuted in 1954, and outdoor Shakespeare festivals are performed everywhere from Australia to Canada to New Zealand. And in Shakespeare’s home country of England, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will stage a production of Romeo and Juliet in 2021 (https://openairtheatre.com/schedule/2021).
Outdoor theatrical productions lend themselves particularly well to these uncertain times; and in regards to this production, seating will be socially distanced according to each group’s reservation. Individual socially distanced seats are available, and Live Oak requests that audience members wear masks when standing in line or going indoors. When seated in socially distanced outdoor seating, they can remove the masks if preferred. The production itself consists of only 10 cast members, and temperatures were taken during rehearsals.
Tickets are now on sale for THE BARD UNLEASHED, the first production in the Live Oak Theatre “Shakespeare on the Green” series. The Bard Unleashed will be performed October 9-11, 16-18, and 23-25 at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville. Seats are $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 13 and under, when accompanied by an adult. To purchase tickets, go to https://liveoaktheatre.square.site/ or email [email protected] or call 352-593-0027.
“We hope that, through this production,” said Marra. “The kids will realize that Shakespeare is cool.”