A Semester of Shakespeare

Originally published on September 21, 2018 in The Holcad Student Newspaper. 

Theatre Westminster has been hard at work to incorporate its new tagline for the year: “Drama Twist: A Modern Spin on Classic Plays.” The department has already held two beneficial workshops this month to bolster their mission: a musical theatre choreography workshop and a scenic paint master class. The two major fall productions “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “Hamlet” will also incorporate the theme of putting a modern spin on the classics.

Arriving first this semester is the musical “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” The show will open Homecoming weekend, October 11-14. The musical is a modern adaptation of the same Shakespearean play, and senior theatre major Emily Eyler says it’s a “fun little twist” on the classic. The story, set in California, follows a group of men who swear to give up women for some time, but as you may guess, their limits will be tested. The show will be performed in the familiar Shakespearean language, but will include modern day setting and character portrayal.

As we kept discussing the musical, Eyler noted a memorable quote from Director Lester Malizia that has been the basis for their character development. Malizia stated, “If you go out on campus you will see all these characters, you will see yourself in them, and you will see your friends in them.” She continued to explain that “while Shakespeare may sometimes get a bad reputation as being boring, this production will not be like that. It will be fun and upbeat.” The musical will indeed be a modern spin on the classic play, where the cast plans to make it as relatable as possible to students on campus.

Later in the semester Theatre Westminster will produce the classic Shakespearean tragedy “Hamlet” which will open December 6-9. Eyler pointed out that “while this might resemble the Shakespeare you read in high school, it will still be engaging and entertaining.” The story will follow Prince Hamlet as he seeks out revenge for his father’s murder. The play incorporates themes of murder, revenge and insanity while unraveling many secrets.

Eyler and fellow senior theatre major Kyle DePasquale will be working on this production of “Hamlet” for their senior capstone projects. DePasquale has adapted the play from its original length of four hours down to a manageable two, and Eyler will be planning and implementing the stage design. Eyler described her concept for the stage design as following: “The overgrowth of lies in the royal family and the continual use of beauty to cover them up.” The stage will be natural and genuine, but will still include some mysterious elements to add dramatic effect to the different scenes. DePasquale and Eyler will also be playing the main characters of Hamlet and Ophelia, respectively.

Theatre Westminster has many exciting projects and productions coming up this semester, so make sure to check them out! Also, the theatre department is always looking for motivated individuals to help them with behind the scenes work. If you are interested in volunteering with the theatre or helping in any way please contact Christopher Strangfeld at strangca@westminster.edu.

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