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Shaking up Shakespeare by izzy Leake

On Friday and Saturday night, M-A’s drama class took to the stage to “capture the magic, the genius, and the towering grandeur of William Shakespeare” in their performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). The show covers Shakespeare’s 37 plays and 254 sonnets in under two hours, bringing its own twist and comedic flair to his works to alleviate the audience’s “desperate plea for literary salvation.”

Maile Coberly gets ready to hit the stage.

Unlike most shows, the actors (Maile Coberly, Sophie Glinder, Alexandra Ornes, and Jacey Williams) actually play themselves, so the performance relies heavily on the actors’ own improvitisations. Co-director Michael Pagee said, “We left it to the actors to adlib whenever they wanted to, whenever it felt appropriate to. We wanted to make sure they were playing themselves because the show relies on the actors just being themselves and making the audience believe what they are doing is just off the bat.”

“It was a collective thing with the class. One of the main reasons was because we had the perfect number of characters for the number of actors that we had in the class. We were also just drawn to the silliness of the entire show,” said Pagee, on the process of choosing this play.

Co-directors Michael Pagee and Jacey Williams pose in front of the set.

After an introduction to the show and actors, Williams launches into a biography of Shakespeare, claiming he married Anne Hathaway and slowly confuses him with Adolf Hitler. Next is a slapstick parody of Romeo and Juliet, followed by Titus Andronicus done as a cooking show, and Othello.

All the comedies are condensed into one new show called “four weddings and a transvestite,” with the justification that all the plots are the same. The histories are acted out in a football game where the kings tackle each other for the crown. The game ends with the cheer “Henry V, Richard III, the whole royal family is fricken absurd! Go Bears!”

Sophie Glinder and Maile Coberly bow in front of Jacey Williams as Julius Caeser.

They run through the rest of Shakespeare's tragedies, pass around a note card with all of his sonnets written on it to save time, and the second act is dedicated to the performance of Hamlet. An audience member is brought up to play Ophelia, while the actors lead the rest of the audience in chanting things at her to express the character’s inner turmoil. Ornes stated, “My favorite part definitely has to be the audience interaction. The audience never expects it, and then you’re pulling people up on stage.”

Williams co-directed the show with Pagee. An incident happened where one of the actors could no longer perform, so Williams had to memorize that part in a week and a half. However, in the end “it was a great experience [for Williams] and [she] got a little bit of both worlds.”

Emma Denend adds some finishing touches on Alexandra Ornes' costume.

“Playing yourself onstage is a lot harder than it seems because you never actually think about what you do in your normal life. A challenge we have all been struggling with is figuring out what things we do naturally, and how it works on stage,” said Glinder.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Coberly said, “My favorite part was probably the audience reaction to it. The comedic effect really came through. With the audience there we were able to play off them. It was able to work more than it had during rehearsals.”

Ornes enjoyed working with her classmates saying, “to do the show you have to have that kind of comedic sense. It’s been fun discovering the comedy moments. I love analyzing comedy and what makes stuff funny.”

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