Shakespeare spoof set for Athens, Tenn.

Shakespeare spoof set for Athens, Tenn.

June 26th, 2012 by Holly Leber in Life Entertainment


• Name: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

• June 28, 29, 30, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

• Sue E. Trotter Theater - the Arts Center, 320 North White St., Athens, TN

• Cost: All seats $5 at door ony

The Reduced Shakespeare Company, creators of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)," warns: "This show is a high-speed roller-coaster type condensation of all of Shakespeare's plays, and is not recommended for people with heart ailments, bladder problems, inner-ear disorders and/or people inclined to motion sickness."

Ellen Kimball, executive director of the Athens (Tenn.) Area Council for the Arts, did not mention experiencing any of these symptoms when she read the work, but it did give her funny bone a workout.

"It made me laugh so much I couldn't believe it," she said. "I love Shakespeare. It's been something I've been wanting to see happen in our theater."

A fast-paced romp through all the plays features three actors, all of whom are playing actors who are playing roles in very short adaptations of the Bard's work. The play eliminates the fourth wall, incorporating audience participation.

Last summer, the discussion began to bring the work to the Athens stage. Trung Phan, then an intern, spoke to Kimball about the possibility of helming the show. This is his first foray into directing. He spent the last year stage managing while a sophomore at King's College in Bristol, Tenn.

It's been a tiring but rewarding experience, he said, and has given him empathy for the directors he's worked with when he's been on-stage himself. Phan said the audience is in for a treat.

"The audience can expect silliness, but they can also expect to see how Shakespeare's works will shine through as an example of genius in the English language," he said.

Playing multiple roles within a role has been an adventure for rising McMinn County High School senior Scott Rust, whose previous stage experience includes a supporting role in "Guys and Dolls" and, he said, a second-grade play.

His role as a member of an acting troupe requires him to be "overly sarcastic and a little whiny."

The role also requires him to get in touch with his feminine side.

"I am Juliet, and Ophelia, and play Lavinia in Titus Andronicus."

Taking on the roles has allowed Rust to discover an uncanny ability to speak in a credible feminine voice.

"I had no idea that I could do that," he said. "But at the same time, I'm not acting as a girl. I'm acting as a guy who is acting as a girl. I don't have to push it all the way to: (high-pitched British accented feminine voice) 'Let's go shopping. Let's buy shoes'."

Kimball said she hopes to present legitimate works of Shakespeare at the Athens Arts Center and thinks this is a good way to introduce the works of the Bard to those who are unfamiliar.

"The charm and comedy rely on seeing a serious attempt by three novice actors to condense all of Shakespeare's plays into a ridiculously short amount of time."