Transy Student’s Take on Shakespeare Breaks Norms

by Alex Keys

While William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is a time-honored classic, director Patrick Davis insists that Transylvania’s production this December will offer many surprises for new and old audiences alike.

Currently a senior, Davis has known for several years that he wanted to direct his own production this year. As an avid fan of all that is Shakespeare, the toughest decision for Davis was which play would be best for a Transylvania audience. After seriously considering “Hamlet” and a variety of other productions, Davis finally decided on a well-known classic.

“‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a show I could get the school excited about, a show everyone knows and a show we felt like we could cast,” Davis said.

However, Davis’ production of “Romeo and Juliet” will differ greatly from those you may remember from your childhood.

“Instead of looking at it from a love perspective, I decided to look at it as a story of generations,” Davis said.

To clearly articulate the theme of generations, Davis decided to give his production a 1960s-inspired feel.

“This is a story of parents and children and how they interact and communicate, and how they don’t,” said Davis.

A unique element to the production is the way it draws on the conformity of the 1950s and the more rebellious nature of the late 1960s in order to exemplify the manner in which the two clash.

However, emphasis on age difference presented an interesting challenge to Davis during the casting process.

“It’s important to understand that half of our cast are first-years, and we have first-years in prominent roles,” Davis said.

Because of the young cast, among other reasons, Davis insisted the production have an extended rehearsal period, seven weeks. For the first three weeks of rehearsals, Davis and his cast focused on language and character development.

“Four weeks would give us time to block the play, do a little bit of acting work and that’s it,” Davis said. “If my actors don’t know what they’re talking about, no one knows what they’re talking about.”

As part of character development, Davis encouraged his cast to fill out a Facebook profile for their respective characters. This enabled the actors to better understand their characters’ interests and perspectives, and it even led them to interact with one another through the site.

An exciting event might take place on Facebook prior to the show’s opening night.

“If you haven’t yet, I encourage everyone to friend the characters,” Davis said.

Davis insists that, in this production, the cast will “not be performing for an audience, but performing with an audience.” To make this experience even more genuine, he is offering 35 “groundling” tickets for each show. Groundlings will sit by the stage, on the floor, at a reduced price.

“Overall, my main goal with this show is to make Shakespeare accessible to a Transy audience,” said Davis. “People are going to be surprised by some of things they see.”

Davis’ production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” will be showing in Little Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 11 and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12. Tickets are $5 for regular seating and $2 for groundling seats. Groundling seats are “bring your own pillow.”

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