ELKINS - Imagine nine students rehearsing 16 days to perform 37 plays by William Shakespeare in a heart-stopping 97 minutes. That is exactly what you can enjoy January 25-26 at Davis & Elkins College’s Boiler House Theatre. The Department of Fine and Performing Arts is producing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) which was London’s longest-running comedy, for more than 10 years in the famed Criterion Theatre. The madcap play features actors weaving their wicked way through all of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies in one wild ride that will leave the audience breathless with laughter.
Traditionally, casting for Complete Works includes only three actors, but the D&E production will feature the diverse talents of seven students enrolled in winter term theatre production classes. Not only will the students perform the play, they are also building the scenery, making the costumes and hanging the stage lights.
The Complete Works, directed by April Daras, Associate Professor of Theatre and Chair, Fine & Performing Arts Department, is very different than the traditional Shakespearian performance. Playwrights Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield successfully merged all of Shakespeare’s plays into a fast-paced and gut-busting hour and a half. It originality also stems from the use of gender-bending cross-dressing, quirky sight gags, stage accents, improvisation, music and frequent references to popular culture, all designed to connect the classical world of Shakespeare to the contemporary world of iPod.
According to Ben Brantley, critic with The New York Times, the play’s “gung-ho vitality is impossible to resist. The conversion of the histories into a football game is very funny. So is a rap version of Othello. Hamlet truly soars and allows the actors to come into their own as manic clowns. At its giddiest, its tone recalls the fabled Bullwinkle cartoon shows.”
The acting company includes: Millie Omps, Slanesville, WV; Alex Binkley, Stafford, VA; Alyse Prince, Hurricane, WV; Alex Torres, Arlington, VA; Zach Snyder, Hambleton, WV; Ashley Collins, Independence, WV; and Michael Good, Elkins, WV. The student production team includes scenic design by Jenny Hart, Elkins, WV and lighting design by TJ Myers, Mt. Airy, MD. Additional production support is provided by: Ashlen Wilson, Elkins, WV; Millie Omps, Alex Binkley, Alyse Prince, Alex Torres, Zach Snyder, Ashley Collins, Michael Good, TJ Myers, Sarah Satterwhite, Farmington, WV, and Sara Davenport, Spencer, WV. Costume design is by Ruth Humphrey, Instructor of Theatre, and technical direction is by Tom Hackman, Associate Professor of Theatre.
Regardless of your age or familiarity with the Bard, this production is a fun and exciting invitation into the world of Shakespeare. As a critic with The Today Show suggested: “If you like Shakespeare, you’ll like this show. If you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love this show!” The performances begin at 8 p.m. in the Boiler House Theatre on the D&E Campus January 25 and 26. For reservations, call 304-637-1212. Tickets are $7 general admission, $5 for students under 18, senior citizens and D&E Alumni, and free to current D&E students, staff and faculty.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, DC. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.