It was officially made official last week so I can now officially tell you what all this hulla-ba-loo about my super secret project is about:
I’m working on Twelfth Night.
And it’s not just any Twelfth Night.
When we finished As You Like It, a few of the cast members and I felt like-mindedly that A) we didn’t want to stop working on Shakespeare, B) we had learned a lot from this process and we wanted to continue learning from each other, and C) we had some ideas about how to create theatre that existing companies may not be comfortable with.
One idea that I have been kicking around for many years is this: can you create theatre without a director? Do you need a single guiding vision in the room, or is a roomful of smart, talented people a viable alternative? Can you collaborate one what should be a truly collaborative process?
Apparently, I’m not the only one. My cohorts felt similarly; too long oppressed by the
tyranny of ego-driven directors, we struck out on our own to try an experiment. We wanted to create a dynamic company driven by a mutual passion for Shakespeare and a burning desire to produce his work. We wanted to create an environment where we could learn from each other equally and where one voice wasn’t necessarily the presiding one.
A few networking connections later and we had begun rehearsal. Due to the brilliance of one of my compatriots, the show’s been cut to two hours and is being performed with (get this) eight actors. We’re all doubling roles in one way or another and this has led to a rollicking good time at rehearsal. Twelfth Night is already a fun show, but pile on top of the innate humor some great ensemble work and meta-theatrics and you’ve got yourself a real winner. I always leave rehearsal more excited than I was when I walked in, more energized than I was when I walked in, and more impatient to see the end produce than I was when I walked in.
In short: you should come see our little experiment in action! We’re calling ourselves (at least for now) the “What you Will Players” and we hope to be taking the Boston theatre scene by storm. Our guiding values are community, engagement (with the audience and the text), enlightenment (of ourselves, each other, and our audiences), and simple performance done simply. We’re not into bells and whistles and Twelfth Night will be performed largely using costumes and props that we found in our basements and closets. We’re hoping to show that good Shakespeare doesn’t need the trappings of theatrics
layered on top if it, but rather (simply) a genuine emotional connection.
I’ve worked on Twelfth Night before. I’ve done monologues, scenes, and even the entire show. This is the first time that I’ve really felt connected to it, however, rather than distanced from it. In fact, the last production of Twelfth Night that I was in was the one that made me run screaming from the theatre due to an awful director, his ego-driven antics, and his inability to communicate with me as an actor. My current rehearsal process is slowly curing me of my Twelfth Night phobia and I can honestly say that this show is going to be a real treat to see.
…so who am I playing, you ask? Through some exceedingly clever script cutting and some crazy quick changing, I’ll be appearing as both Maria and Olivia. Can you already tell how much fun this is?
Updates to follow in the coming months! We will be performing March 8th and 9th at 8PM and 10th at 3PM at the Winthrop Under-Playhouse Blackbox (60 Hermon St., Winthrop MA) so mark your calendars. Ticket info will be available very soon!