The mere mention of Shakespeare is enough to send most students into hiding, but for senior theater major Alex Ungerman and other UVU and BYU students, they took the seemingly confusing work of Shakespeare and made a production company.
Nearly two years ago, Ungerman and fellow Wolverine Mark Oram founded the Grassroots Shakespeare Company. The company is based upon the concept of performing Shakespeare’s plays as they were originally produced.
“Plays were not always done the way they are today. There used to be a very different process,” said Ungerman. “The whole concept of having a director and a scriptwriter and actors who just act really only happened in the last 100 years.”
In Shakespeare’s time, there would only be a small troupe of actors who were given two weeks or less to create a production.
“Sometimes actors would go off and memorize their lines on their own,” said Ungerman about the actors of Shakespeare’s time. “Then they’d come together the day of the performance and just put it up. And that’s the idea we wanted to explore.”
Just like in Shakespeare’s day, the Grassroots Shakespeare Company has a troupe of actors who are dedicated to putting on a production after only two weeks of planning and rehearsing.
The company has been widely successful. They have had two touring shows, performing Much Ado About Nothing in the summer of 2009 and Romeo and Juliet in 2010. Those shows featured several UVU students, including Kyle Oram, Robbie Pierce, Trevor Robertson and Eric Phillips, all of whom are active members of the UVU theater department and its productions.
Besides exploring and utilizing the performance styles from the Renaissance, the GSC has other goals they aim to achieve. Ungerman said another one of their goals is to “Increase appreciation and awareness of Shakespeare performance in the community and to help college students have a fun, exciting experience with Shakespeare because it can be so dry and boring.”
The GSC also opens their doors to students and the community by hosting workshops. Each workshop focuses on a different aspect of the company. The most recent workshop, which occurred right before the beginning of the spring semester, focused on adapting and rewriting two of Shakespeare’s plays.
If you have any interest in being a part of the Grassroots Shakespeare Company, visit their website at www.GrassrootsShakespeare.com