Watching a Shakespearean play is one thing ““ keeping track of many scenes from different plays is another.
For an unsuspecting audience member, it can be a chaotic and overwhelming experience. But for the cast of Shakespeare at UCLA, that experience pays long overdue homage to the ideas of the great 16th century poet and playwright.
Tonight, Shakespeare at UCLA, a club composed of talented actors and actresses from all over campus, will perform its fall quarter production, aptly titled “An Evening of Shakespeare”. The performance will be held in Kerckhoff Grand Salon and features a medley of scenes from well-known plays including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Tempest” and “Macbeth”.
Perhaps the greatest shift from traditional theater is Shakespeare at UCLA’s use of multiple scenes from multiple plays to create a comprehensive production. Each scene explores a different genre and serves as an opportunity for students to direct something of their own and add variety to the show.
Maddy Stokell, a second-year theater student and the director of the scene excerpted from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said the variety of scenes helps audiences unaccustomed to theater to ease into appreciating Shakespearean drama.
“The performance is basically a crash course in Shakespearean theater. You’ve got comedy, history, tragedy and romance all at once,” Stokell said. “It’s suitable for both veterans and newcomers to Shakespeare and makes for a really well-rounded show.”
The Friday performance is the culmination of Shakespeare at UCLA’s primary efforts at producing a show composed of single acts from multiple plays. If successful, Stokell said the group hopes to make the Shakespeare medley an annual tradition.
“The new format of the play worked well with everyone,” Stokell said. “I think we’ll definitely do it again next year if the audience likes it.”
Mikel Parraga-Willis, a fourth-year anthropology student who also acts in “The Tempest,” said tying the scenes together was a slow process. But as the weeks went on, the cast picked up underlying meanings of how human nature and emotion works in their collaborations.
“At first, (the scenes) were thought of as very individual, but then they turned into something deeper and more profound,” said Parraga-Wills. “(The production) is more than just a showcase of scenes; it’s a showcase of an artist’s rendition of emotion and how that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.”
At first, students encountered pitfalls as they navigated their way around the new format of the performance but found new ways to work and mature together as the weeks progressed.
Olivia Marick-Reis, a fourth-year physiological science student and actress in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said collaborating with the other acts was more difficult but still rewarding due to the varied program.
“It was hard to coordinate everything because each scene was so different,” Marick-Reis said. “But towards the end, we all got closer and more responsible because we had to work together differently than we normally would have.”
Because the production is the first of the school year, Parraga-Wills said the group hopes that the success of this performance will encourage members to enjoy themselves and contribute their creativity to future projects.
“It’ll be an entertaining performance, at the very least,” Parraga-Wills said. “We’re just going to go up there and put out energy and have fun.”