Grassroots Shakespeare Presents TWELFTH NIGHT
Seven years ago, Steven Pond was watching a production of Shakespeare done in the style that would have been presented during the famous playwright's time. He turned to his wife and said, "I really want to be part of this."
SCERA Center for the Arts personnel were also intrigued with the unique and interactive shows inspired by Shakespeare's original staging techniques and have found a permanent slot for the Grassroots Shakespeare Company in its annual indoor season. This year the show is "Twelfth Night," and the performances are Jan. 15-18 at 7:30 pm.
SCERA President & CEO Adam Robertson, explains "The players break down the fourth wall and invite the audiences to actively participate in the show. You'll see actors react and respond directly to the audience, and it's all great fun. I think if Shakespeare were taught this way in schools, there would be standing room only to take the class."
Pond is part of a company of about a dozen actors in Utah Valley who self-produce shows using original Elizabethan theater practices. The informal company performs without a designated director, devises its own staging and choreography, auditions each other, originates the sets, collects its own costumes and props, and unfolds Shakespeare's great works with an energetic and joyous atmosphere that has become the Grassroots signature style. As the ultimate collaborative experience, Grassroots players vote on options until the result is unanimous.
Anyone is invited to audition, and actors are expected to play multiple parts -- also how it was done in Shakespeare's era. After casting, the players have three or four weeks to memorize Shakespeare's witty and masterfully written words and then meet for 10 rehearsals before "curtain" time.
"It's kind of like seeing Shakespeare the same way your great-great-great Elizabethan grandmother would have viewed the bard's plays," Pond adds.
Grassroots, now in its 10th season, performs in parks and at summer festivals and theatrical seasons throughout Utah every summer. Typically the works are shown outdoors, but Pond says the January show is a rare chance to see the troupe indoors. The players even load, unload and set up their own authentic traveling Shakespearean stage set on barrels.
As what would now be described as a romantic comedy, "Twelfth Night" tells the tale of Viola, who has been shipwrecked in a violent storm off the coast of Illyria; in the process she has lost her twin brother, Sebastian. She disguises herself as a boy and assumes the name Cesario for protection. Thus disguised, Viola becomes a page in the service of Orsino, the Duke, who is pining for Lady Olivia. The complicated love triangle is complete: the disguised Viola loves Orsino, Orsino loves Olivia, and Olivia loves Cesario-and misunderstanding and chaos ensues.
The show stars Pond, Maren Lethbridge, Brandon Bills, Jasmine Fullmer, Soren Budge, Chelsea Mortensen, Drake Hansen, Katie Bennion, Seven Harrison, Ryan Hopkins and Alyssa Tanner.
Reserved seat tickets are available at $12 for adults, and $10 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. Non-profit and educational organizations and official church groups of 20 or more may purchase tickets for $6/person. Tickets are available at scera.org, by calling 801-225-ARTS, at the SCERA (745 S. State St., Orem), during office hours weekdays and Saturdays or at the ticket office prior to performance.