The first main stage theatre production of the year hit the stage Feb. 2. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is a funny, fast-paced show aimed to get through all of Shakespeare's plays.
“The objective of the play is to put on all of Shakespeare’s plays or at least 37 out of the 38 plays,” Director Jenna Soleo-Shanks said. “They do all of Shakespeare’s plays in 97 minutes.”
With such a big task to complete all of Shakespeare’s works, there is only a small cast able to do so.
“There are only 3 actors who are attempting to be every character practically in Shakespeare,” Soleo-Shanks said.
Soleo-Shanks said the biggest challenge of this production was taking the skilled and serious actors who are starring in the show and telling them that their character is a bad actor.
“They are certainly making fun of themselves,” Soleo-Shanks said. “That’s part of the fun of it.”
This play was created about 30 years ago by actors who have performed Shakespeare before. Since it was actors who created this play they knew what jokes will be a hit and what wouldn’t.
There have been some adaptations made by Soleo-Shanks and the cast to have more contemporary pop culture references. Soleo-Shanks said an example of an adaption is changing a comment about the television show General Hospital to Game of Thrones.
“Because the title is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare some people might think that they need to know Shakespeare, or love Shakespeare or be ready for a really heavy show. We hope that our marketing has shown that this isn’t a heavy show, and that we have taken the piss out of Shakespeare. Not in a critical way—it’s really because we love Shakespeare,” Soleo-Shanks said.
Since this is the 400th year after Shakespeare’s death, the theatre department wanted to do something to celebrate the work he’s done. Since they did the play All’s Well That Ends Well last year, this season they aimed to do something more light and funny, along with something that everyone can enjoy.
“It is hilarious for people who know Shakespeare, but it’s also really fun for people who have never seen a Shakespeare play in their life,” Head of the Theatre Department Mark Harvey said.
Soleo-Shanks thinks that this will be good way for students to get away from the stresses they are facing and enjoy a good laugh.
“There are three jokes a minute, so if you don’t like this one, there will be another one coming up in like 30 seconds,” Soleo-Shanks said.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is now playing in the Marshall Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre on Feb. 2-4 and 8-11 at 7:30 p.m. as well as on Feb. 5 at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be bought in the box office or online at https://www.tickets.umn.edu/UMDSFA/Online/