Thursday, June 20

Performance group wanders from Bard originals


Performance group wanders from Bard originals

Students act out modern twists of Shakespeare’s plays

By Allyson Harwood

Daily Bruin Contributor

While it would seem normal for the Shakespeare Reading and
Performance Group to put on scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, this
quarter’s "Night of Scenes" will consist primarily of acts by
modern authors, not the English playwright.

As co-founder Harry Teplitz explains, "This time we decided to
do mostly non-Shakespeare, because we’d been doing a lot of
Shakespeare and everyone wanted to get the chance to act in
something different."

"The Skinhead Hamlet" is the strongest example of how far this
quarter’s performances (next weekend in Rolfe 1200) are straying
from the norm.

"I don’t know who wrote it," Teplitz says. "It’s a spoof of
‘Hamlet,’ a parody, written from the point of view of ‘what if
British punks like the Sex Pistols did a production of
‘Hamlet?’"

"It’s about 10 minutes long, and does 20 scenes from Hamlet, and
it’s just the way they would speak, so pretty much every other word
is ‘fuck.’ It’s very brief and to the point. As far as I know it’s
been floating around the Internet for 10 or more years … everyone
sort of just knows about it … we got a copy and we’re doing
it."

The group, which formed in 1993, came about during the summer.
The founders met at an improv acting class at Sunset Recreation
Center.

Their first production had only 14 students in it, but this
quarter’s "Night of Scenes" has many more participants. Says
Teplitz, "I think it’s between 30 and 40. It’s very large this
time."

They meet in various places, twice a week. This time is spent
going over lines and interpreting Shakespeare.

Patsy Dewitt, who joined the group a year ago, believes it is
beneficial for theater students as well.

"The theater department doesn’t have all of the opportunities
one would want to act or direct, although that is improving," says
Dewitt. "For a long time it’s been very difficult. (This group)
gave me one of the best acting experiences I’ve ever had in my
life. It really opened my eyes up to a lot of things that I
wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to do before. Now I’m directing
the summer play."

Active year-round, the group performs full plays over the
summer, as well as quarterly readings or scenes.

"The first summer, we did ‘Twelfth Night,’ the next summer we
did ‘Merchant of Venice,’ and last summer we did ‘Measure for
Measure,’" says Teplitz. "This summer we’re going to do ‘Two
Gentlemen of Verona.’"

This quarter’s performance, based on mutual agreement, has nine
scenes, all with different directors from the group. It provides
everything from a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s "Reservoir Dogs"
to an original work by a member of the company.

The group, oriented toward anyone who shows interest, is open to
those who are willing to audition.

"It’s very non-competitive, and a lot of people get the chance
to do more acting than they would otherwise do in the chemistry
department, for example," says Teplitz.

"Also a lot of people get the chance to direct, which is
something that’s even harder to get the chance to do if you’re not
in some sort of theatrical profession. We get a lot of people who
have never acted before … they learn a lot, diving in head
first."

STAGE: The Shakespeare Reading and Performance Group, performing
next weekend in Rolfe 1200. The shows are free. For more info, call
(310) 471-2307.Comments to [email protected]

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