Actors want to take theatergoers on a journey. With Guerrilla Shakespeare, they can – literally.
Each spring, audience members follow the Guerrilla Shakespeare Ensemble across campus as it performs a Shakespeare play outdoors. The 13-member cast will perform “Titus Andronicus” this Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. outside the Fish Interfaith Center for free.
The ensemble will perform the play using guerrilla theater techniques. Performing plays outside gives the actors an outlet to interact with their audience in an unconventional manner, and they find the unpredictable setting exciting to work with, said Kyle Cooper, senior theatre performance major and the show’s director.
“Usually the environment within a theater is pretty controlled, but outside, who knows what’ll happen,” he said, reminiscing on last year’s performance when almost 100 sorority members walked into the middle of the performance.
After a play is chosen, the ensemble begins rehearsing in the fall, Cooper said. Actors submit requests to the director expressing their desired roles, and the director chooses who will best fit each character.
This year, the ensemble chose to perform one of Shakespeare’s darkest and bloodiest plays, “Titus Andronicus,” because of its unique themes in comparison to its past productions.
“It’s a Shakespeare story that’s not told that often, and we were intrigued by it,” said Sarah Eisenberg, junior theatre performance major. “The whole world is about revenge.”
Sophomore Emily Valla, theatre and broadcast journalism double major, said that Shakespeare’s themes are eternal.
“There are themes of jealousy, revenge and how actions affect other people. It’s stuff that we deal with all the time – nothing’s changed,” Valla said.
What does change is the outdoor setting, which tests the actors’ abilities. They use minimal costumes and props. The sun is their only lighting and the campus is their stage. And being outside can cause interesting problems.
Two years ago, during a performance of “Romeo and Juliet,” a small earthquake interrupted the final scene on the steps of Memorial Hall. Only after their final bows did the actors start exclaiming how scared they were, said Sam Weiner, a junior screen acting major who attended the event.
This is junior theatre major Chris Voss’s first year participating in the ensemble, and he looks forward to the uncommon style of the performance.
“It makes us much more spontaneous because we have to be ready for anything to happen and adjust our performances accordingly,” Voss said.