Leesville’s honors theatre class presented two interesting renditions of Shakespeare’s works on Friday January 6. While Shakespeare Slept, written by Tim Kelley and published in 1967 and When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet by Charles George, published in 1942.
While Shakespeare Slept is about a dream Shakespeare had after claiming to have quit the theatre due to his lack of success (it is supposed to be while he was young, before he became famous). Each of his key female roles appears in his dream, complaining about their lack of creation, semi-creation or undeveloped characterization. Lady Macbeth was merely a figment of Shakespeare’s imagination at the time and didn’t have a name yet, for example. The women convince him to continue his dream of writing plays, and when he wakes up, he returns to the theatre.
When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet tells the story of all his famous ladies meeting in Juliette’s garden (from Romeo and Juliette) to warn her of the dangers involved in love. Portia, from The Merchant of Venice played by Jesse McGuire, Katherine, from The Taming of the Shrews played by Remi Olagoke, and Cleopatra from Julius Ceasar played by Jenan Fatfat are a few of the women who show up. The each share stories from their love escapades hoping to differ Juliette’s love, yet the young girl ends up schooling her older peers, ultimately proving that love conquers all.
Each of these plays have key quotes from several of Shakespeare’s works, inserted cleverly into the play so that only the Shakespeare connoisseurs in the audience recognized the line. For example, Portia claimed that “love looks not with the eyes but with the mind,” quoting Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The purpose of having two plays of almost entirely female roles is to create the ideal number of parts for the members of the class. The class has 13 people in it, two of those members being boys.
Each member of the class had a role in the play; some had technical jobs as well.
Bryce Murphy, senior, had the smallest role in the first play and no role at all in the second.
“I am playing old Shakespeare in the first play, and then I am stage manager and sound technician for the second,” explained Murphy.
Kelly Byrns, who played Rosalind from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, also did hair for her other classmates.
Sam Stephan, senior, played the great Bard himself in the first play While Shakespeare Slept.
“At first, I was nervous. I mean, it’s Shakespeare. He’s like the greatest actor of all time,” said Stephan, “but I got used to it.”
Ultimately the two plays were a success. The acting was superb, and it was clear that the actors put work into the play, creating a puny, interesting production that I am sure Shakespeare himself would have enjoyed.