Shakespeare in a blender
This month, WilsonvilleSTAGE will condense William Shakespeare's entire collection of plays — even the heart-wrenching tragedies — into a single farce.
The "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]" will depict Romeo and Juliet rocking out on guitars, the bloody "Titus Andronicus" as a cooking show, and puppets appearing in a famous scene from "Hamlet" — not to mention light-saber battles, football and Godzilla.
"Everybody come out for a couple hours of laughter and fun," Director Rick Hoover said. "It's just silliness."
WilsonvilleSTAGE, a local theaterv group, will perform the show at 7:30 p.m. May 18 and 2:30 p.m. May 19 at the Wilsonville Public Library and at 7:30 p.m. May 24-25 and 2:30 p.m. May 26 at Charbonneau Country Club. For more information, visit http://www.wilsonvillestage.org.
Hoover was an extra in "General Hospital" and "All in the Family" many years ago and has spent much of his life performing and directing for local theater groups. Along with Hoover, nearly the entire crew for the upcoming play comes from Mask & Mirror Community Theatre in Tigard.
Hoover had performed in two WilsonvilleSTAGE plays before and offered the Shakespearean farce, which was written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield and first performed in 1987, to the group, which is reeling from mainstay director Terry Kester's recent cancer diagnosis.
"They were looking for a show for early spring and I had offered this show to them because I knew they didn't have a home and this is three actors, not much in a way of a set, just walls put up and that's about it," Hoover said. "It's really easy to travel."
Throughout the performance, the actors will breeze through 37 of Shakespeare's plays, change into myriad costumes and play dozens of characters. Plus, they will perform comedic bits with audience members and even direct a couple to play roles on stage. In turn, they will mix in some improvisational comedy.
"That (audience interaction) becomes the improv side of the show. The thing we try to make sure of is the audience doesn't ever know if they (the actors) are doing improv or the lines," Hoover said. "When you go out to the audience and start talking to people, you don't know how they will react."
With so much going on and timing essential, Hoover said the performance affords little margin for error.
"From a director's standpoint, it's insanely difficult. Drama is easy. You can be sitting and talking and get an emotion," Hoover said. "Slapstick, farce, you keep the people moving at all times."
Hoover recommends the play both to the kind of person who reads Shakespeare scripts in their leisure and travels to Ashland regularly and those who find his work linguistically obtuse or culturally outdated.
"I think they (Shakespeare fans) will have a lot of fun with it because we make fun of all of it, but we kind of play it straight in a way," Hoover said. "People who see Shakespeare and say 'I don't have a clue what they are talking about' or try to read it, and after two pages it's like 'No way,' those are the people who will really enjoy it."