An audience of about 40 people huddled around the courtyard of Ford Hall on April 27 to watch a lively group of costumed actors recreate famous scenes from plays by William Shakespeare.
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Janet Gupton’s Topics in Performance class produced the show in celebration of Shakespeare’s April 27 birthday. Gupton and 13 students performed during the event, recreating six scenes from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” “Macbeth,” “Richard III,” “As You Like It” and “Hamlet.”
Gupton said in an email that it is important for actors to keep Shakespeare alive through theater.
“[Shakespeare] is the most-produced English-speaking playwright in the world, so from an actor’s standpoint, it is important to be able to handle his text,” she said.
The audience laughed at the actors during lively parts of the evening, such as when one of the forest scenes from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” was depicted. Junior Chloe Wandler, who played Helena, climbed up a lamppost as if it were a tree.
There were also more melancholy moments, such as during a scene from “Hamlet” in which Hamlet denies his love for Ophelia. The scene featured sophomores Chris Forrer as Hamlet and Laura Haspel as Ophelia.
In addition to performing the various play segments, the actors engaged the audience in a contest for the best Shakespearian insults.
Sophomore Amanda Wolf said she enjoyed the outdoor performance and thought the weather correlated well with the Hamlet scene.
“I liked how it started raining during the tragic ending,” she said.
Haspel said that interpreting and memorizing the Shakespearian language was the most difficult part of the performance. She said she initially used “No Fear Shakespeare,” which is a modern translation of Shakespeare’s works, to help her interpret her lines.
“It’s easy to run into a language barrier with Shakespeare’s works,” Haspel said. “But it helps to view the language as a story or poetry. If you know what you’re talking about, it makes the performance much more powerful.”
Gupton said that it took work for the actors to adjust to performing in the outdoor setting.
“It was challenging to get the actors to realize how much they need to project with their bodies and voices for the outside, as well as to assure them that Shakespeare can be outrageous and bawdy and fun,” she said.
Joanna Peterson can be reached at email@example.com
Joanna Peterson/Culture editor