“This isn’t your grandma’s Shakespeare. This is more like your great-great-great-great Elizabethan grandmother’s super awesome Shakespeare!” said Kyle Oram, an actor for the UVU Theatre Arts and The Grassroots Shakespeare Company. The method behind the Grassroots company, is that they aim to produce the plays authentic to Shakespeare performance.
The company has rehearsals for two weeks, a collaborative directing effort among the cast, and plenty of audience interaction. The actors encourage the viewers to cheer, boo, laugh, and react and often as they like. The tradition of offstage participation turns a 21st century crowd into the audience during a show in Shakespeare’s era. This makes for a unique and interactive experience. The crowd voices their opinions on the action and answers the actors’ questions.
“The Winter’s Tale” is one of Shakespeare’s less popular plays. Many students aren’t required to read it in high school and may not know the story as well as they do “Hamlet.”
As King Leontes (Kyle Oram) becomes consumed with jealousy over his wife Hermione (Heather Shelley), he sets in motion events that will destroy his family. After sentencing his wife to prison and ordering his newborn daughter to be abandoned in some desolate place, he spends sixteen years full of regret for his actions. Meanwhile, his daughter is found and falls in love with a prince, causing more contention for the royal families.
The cast of “Winter’s Tale” did an excellent job making the story easy to understand. They were loud enough to be heard in the UVU courtyard– a difficult performance space. Each actor was lively, engaging, and easy to understand.
Another art that Grassroots brings to performances is live music, or rather, the incorporation of the musicians into the story. The character Autolycus (Spicer Carr) spends the first act of the show on the sidelines underscoring scenes on the piano. He later brings his instrument on stage with him and interacts with other characters. This true sense of unity between performance and technical aspects of theatre isn’t seen in many other productions.
This production of “The Winter’s Tale” has ended of publication, but there are plenty of other opportunities to see Grassroots Shakespeare Company in action. This October they will be performing a special Halloween show. Information can be found on the company website at grassrootsshakespeare.com
Olivia is a theater education major who stumbled into journalism. She’s a little too into movies, pop culture, and Oxford commas (against the desires of her editors). She is also very online. ([email protected])