Shakespeare & Company to Present THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED), 7/4-8/24

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Shakespeare & Company to Present THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED), 7/4-8/24

Shakespeare & Company unleashes its devilish new take on The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. A hilarious medley of mayhem, comedy, and lunacy, Complete Works is directed by resident funny man Jonathan Croy and features just three actors who play over 750 roles- yes we are kidding-well, sort of. This family friendly show runs in the Tina Packer Playhouse from July 4 - August 24th. Press Opening is Friday, July 11 at 7:00pm. To RSVP or for interview opportunities contact Communications & Press Director Elizabeth Aspenlieder: aspenlieder@shakespeare.org.

Warning: Although there is nothing in this play that would offend children, the cast wanted to forewarn parents that strong language, like "varlet," "calumnious," "rabbit-sucker," and "fart" will be in use.

Complete Works offers something special for audiences of all ages to love in this hilarious tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the Bard's works. The show's premise is irresistibly simple. Three suspiciously competent actors/academics attempt to perform the entirety of Shakespeare's plays in less than two hours. And in the hands of director Jonathan Croy and his motley crew of rag-tag actors-the plot swiftly thickens-or should we say completely falls apart. Jonathan Croy (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, Twelfth Night and director of this season's Romeo and Juliet), who is also the Company's Youth Programs Director and an Artistic Associate, harnesses the power of three actors and all 37 of Shakespeare's plays, including a feverish version of Romeo and Juliet, and a special take on Titus Andronicus, which finds deep resonance for the actors in the form of a cooking show that may or may not have you adding new cards to your recipe file.

But wait-there's more! Several sets of identical twins, a tempest, sharp-tongued shrews, air-headed bimbos, fairies, aphrodisiacs, jackasses, murderers, lobotomies and a happy ending brings this shamelessly silly show to a screeching stop-and all in under 120 minutes. With a wink and a nod (and perhaps a pinch of the bottom), this clever parody whirls through the entire canon leaving you laughing long after you've left the theatre.

"This is what many scholars over the years have referred to as 'a romp," says Croy. "Think of it as a 'Survey' of Shakespeare's work-you remember, like those 'Survey' History classes they used to have in high school, where you 'study' the entire history of the world in three-and-a-half hours a week and then have to write a thousand word paper on the totality of the social, economic and political forces in seventeen countries spread out all across Europe in the thirties and early forties that then resulted in World War II...this is like that."

Complete Works opens with a feisty scene between Tybalt and Romeo-followed quickly on its heels by the early story of Titus Andronicus. The show then effortlessly strays into yet another tragedy where Othello discovers his latent musical talents before the Venetian Senate. Soon the audience (provided we have one), not wanting to be outdone, also puts their musical gifts on display in a version of Ophelia's 'mad scene' sung to the tune of Copa Cabana. The madness continues with a presentation of all 16 of Shakespeare's comedies condensed into a single play: "The Comedy of Two Well-Measured Gentlemen Lost in the Merry Wives of Venice on a Midsummer's Twelfth Night in Winter." After a romantic thriller interpretation of both Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, and a unique S&Co. rendition of Macbeth, the "famous Chihuahua scene" makes an appearance in Troilus and Cressida, breathlessly ending Act I.

Yes, there is more! As Croy points out, "We mustn't forget to mention The Histories, which are naturally conceived as a sporting event." The authors state, "With all those kings and queens killing each other off, and the throne passing from one guy to the next, it's exactly like playing football, but you do it with a crown." With 36 plays down and one to go, Complete Works finishes with the tragedy of Hamlet. However, the ill-fated Prince of Denmark arrives on the scene only to have his tragedy repeated in four different versions: regular, fast, fastest, and backwards. Brevity is indeed the soul of wit.

"I have a great affection for this play," adds Croy. "I've acted in it three times over the years here at S&Co. so I have a rather long, and okay, tattered history with it. It's a massive undertaking but a wild and over-the-top extravaganza full of fun, which is right for the show but ultimately it's about the relationship between three actors and the audience. It's an honest attempt to present somewhat of a mini-Shakespeare festival, and the actors must commit to the truth of each scene in order to take the audience with them on their journey. It's also a very collaborative piece both on and backstage with everyone from the dressers to the stage managers and actors all working together at a lightening pace speed in order to accomplish over three-dozen quick changes. They all find their rhythm and like a well-oiled machine they pull off the scene changes seamlessly-well, we hope, while juggling props, wigs, puppets, trap doors and maybe even a trampoline. Wait a minute...did I just say trampoline? Well, you'll just have to come and see for yourselves." And with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Croy continues, "In our Clown work here at Shakespeare & Company (sometimes called European Clown, or Serious Clown, or even Really Painful and Self-Confrontational Clown), we talk about the importance of the Clown's consistently positive and truthful approach to an insurmountable task. And although that has nothing to do with our show, it sounds good, so I'll go with it. You should see this show. And bring lots of friends. It had better be a good time."

S&Co.'s production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was originally performed and written by Jess Winfield, Adam Long, and Daniel Singer. They are known for their fast, funny and physical condensations of things serious-a style they developed at Renaissance Faires in California in the early 1980s. Other productions include The Complete History of America (Abridged) and The Bible-The Complete Word of God (Abridged). The three have performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the A.R.T., Montreal's famed Just for Laughs Festival, London's West End, and overseas. See bios below.

For Tickets and information about the 2014 Performance Season visit: www.shakespeare.org or call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353, or in person at 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA. Ticket prices range from $15 to $80, with discounts from 10-50% off regular ticket prices for Groups, Students, Seniors, Teachers and the Military. Our very popular 40% Off Berkshire County Residents' Discount will again be available. Both the Playhouse and Bernstein theatres are wheelchair accessible and hearing-aid assisted. To learn more about the season, discount availability, to order tickets or request a season brochure, visit www.shakespeare.org. For group bookings, parties, and special event rental information and details contact David Joseph, Director of Sales & Group Tours, at (413) 637-1199 ext. 132 or groupsales@shakespeare.org. GIFT CARDS are on sale year round.

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