Making Shakespeare Proud
By Serene Serhan
The Original Shakespeare Company will debut their first tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, at the Artimes Theater in Jerash on Friday, the play’s director Patrick Tucker told Albawaba.com.
Sitting in the lobby of the Tyche Hotel in Amman surrounded by small scripts and a copy of Romeo and Juliet, Tucker said that the group has always focused on the more comedic plays, because they allow for more immediate interaction with the audience.
“But this year, we decided to experiment with the original version of a tragedy,” he added.
The company always depends on the oldest existing folio in order to “be true to the real text and acting of the play,” said Tucker.
This will be a first for the group, whose 10-year run has focused on romance and comedies.
William Shakespeare would approve of the unrehearsed, spontaneous performances of the Company, according to the play’s Capulet, actor Nicholas Day.
“This is what Shakespeare would want to see,” he said, “pure entertainment.”
Day expressed his disappointment in the newer edited versions of Shakespearean plays saying that the “editors tend to place punctuation based on the proper rules of grammar, as opposed to thinking of it the way Shakespeare intended.”
“Shakespeare wrote for his actors, therefore, the punctuation is there to give the actors clues of how to play the part. Changing the punctuation and editing Shakespeare in general is wrong and ruins the whole concept of the Shakespearean play,” he explained.
He added that the company trusts its actors to present the characters as Shakespeare intended.
“They trust us to do the work right and we try to do just that, we keep loyal to the original text.”
In turn, Tucker said that the circle starts with a complete trust in Shakespeare.
“We trust Shakespeare for being one of the best writers that ever lived. We trust that he knew exactly what he was doing in terms of the way he wrote his plays as well as the way he presented and rehearsed them.”
Tucker explained that the concept of the Original Shakespeare Company became a reality with one simple question he had asked while he helping in the rebuilding of the London Globe Theater.
“As the only theatrical expert on board, I was being told to establish where the rehearsal rooms should be and I found myself asking only one question: Why don’t we rehearse like Shakespeare did.”
“Unfortunately,” he added, “not one Elizabethan age expert knew the answer and so I decided to research it myself.”
The discoveries Tucker made led him to the next step in the logical train of research; experimentation.
“I found out that Shakespeare never had time to rehearse in the modern day sense of the word. For example, when he took his company to King James, he performed 22 plays in one month!” he exclaimed.
“It was then that I decided to try it out the Shakespeare way,” he said.
“I found a group of volunteer actors and slowly pushed them toward the self-reliant way, and it worked, perfectly,” he said.
As the director, Tucker finds that his only responsibility is to remind the actors of the “punctuation and style of the words, in order to keep them focused on the original intent of Shakespeare.”
According to Tucker the actors, who hardly rehearse, do so only for exits, entrances, dances and fights.
The cue script gives the actors their words without any clues as to what the other players are saying, thinking, or doing.
Ironically, although Shakespeare was never able to use women for his female characters because of social taboos, and therefore suffered a lack of female actors, the group said that it sometimes finds itself having to place actresses in the role of some male characters due to the lack of male actors.
The 18 actors in the company are volunteers who work in the mainstream industry.
Friday’s performance will be the company’s fourth play but its first tragedy. Last year, the group presented a great rendition of The Twelfth Night.
The group has achieved great successes, especially in Germany where they played at the Globe Theater to an audience of 1600 in a theater that takes 1500.
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