Henry V is coming soon!

Get ready! King Hal is riding into Chicago October 14th, 18th, and 25th.

Performances at Justin’s, 3358 N Southport Ave, one block from the Southport Brown Line stop.

Doors open at 7:00pm. The show starts at 7:30pm. Drinks and rest rooms available all night! $5 Suggested Donation at the door.

Featuring:

Chris Aruffo
Robbie Bersano
Adam Betz
Alexandra Boroff
Katie Call
Josh Carroll
Kyle Cassady
Marcee Doherty-Elst
Brian Elliott
Christopher Elst
Adrian Garcia
John Gleason Teske
Nathan Grant
Jared McDaris
Deanne McDonald
Zack Meyer
Danny Pancratz
Sara Pavlak McGuire
Benjamin Ponce
Sydney Ray
Jack Sharkey
Lisa Tosti
Aiyanna Wade
Tracy Wray

Eyes on Actors: Katie Call

Logan Farmers Market

Katie Call is another of our newest cast members, having joined us via the recent Unrehearsed workshop. You can see here TONIGHT in Comedy of Errors!

Q: What made you decide to give Unrehearsed a try?
KATIE: I have been spending the past year or so, tentatively dipping my toes back into the acting world. Prior to moving to Chicago in 2008, my educational and professional background had been in theatre and I especially always loved Shakespeare. When I came to Chicago I had to start all over, and until only very recently, I had thought that acting was something that would remain in my past. But after a couple really great experiences acting in EDGE Theatre shows, I felt that it was time to flex my acting muscles a little more. So when Jared announced the Unrehearsed Shakespeare workshops, I was excited to challenge myself and learn this new technique. I’ve been pushing myself to try new experiences that put me outside my normal comfort zone, and Unrehearsed has definitely done that!

Q: With the recent Unrehearsed workshop under your belt, how would say this technique differs from more conventional acting? Does it differ?
KATIE: This technique is definitely very different from conventional acting. To me, it feels almost more like performing improv in that you don’t know what your acting partners are going to do or say and you just have to be willing and ready to go along for the ride.

Q: What’s it like to prepare for a performance while knowing nothing about the show itself?
KATIE: Truthfully, it’s terrifying! But in a really good, heart-racing, adrenalin pumping, feel alive kind of way. As a new performer to this technique, it’s very scary to get up in front of an audience and trust that the show won’t fall apart. I’ve always thought I was a good listener, but this experience is really going to put that to the test.

Q: What (if anything) is your biggest challenge so far with this technique?
KATIE: There are so many challenges! But I think the biggest challenge is trying to feel comfortable with not memorizing the lines while at the same time learning how to maneuver a scroll in one hand while listening, participating and telling the story with the other actors.

Tonight is your LAST CHANCE to see Katie Unrehearsed, for the first time!

DOUBLE FEATURE

AUGUST 16
Comedy of Errors: 7:00pm
Double Falsehood: 8:30pm
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
3905 N Lincoln Ave

AUGUST 19
Double Falsehood: 7:30pm
Justin’s
3358 N Southport Ave

Suggested Donation of $5 at the door.

 

Eyes on Actors: Lisa Tosti

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Lisa Tosti is a Chicago actor and another attendee of our recent Unrehearsed Workshop. You can see her TODAY and this Saturday the 16th in COMEDY of ERRORS.

Q: What made you decide to give Unrehearsed a try?
LISA: I had met a few people from the company while doing other shows here in Chicago and was invited to see a recent production of Twelfth Night. It isn’t one of my favorite Shakespearean plays but I thought “Hey! Why not?” It was so much more than I expected. And for a show that I thought I disliked originally, I finally felt that I understood it and that more importantly, so did the actors. I was hooked after that, so when I was offered a chance to play with the company I jumped at it!

Q: With the recent Unrehearsed workshop under your belt, how would say this technique differs from more conventional acting? Does it differ?
LISA: I have always been one of those actors who gets stuck in my head, specifically in comedies. I normally need a director to give me permission to just go and do whatever, and I constantly second guess myself. Unrehearsed helped me drop all of that and not judge what it was I was doing because the answers were right in front of me in the script. As an actor, it also gives you a chance to truly listen and be in the moment. There is no “pretending to listen” because you’ve over rehearsed. This is literally the first time you are hearing the words even if it’s a famous speech. Because you have someone else interpreting it or “flying the plane” and giving you staging or actions in their words that you most likely never picked up on.

Q: What’s it like to prepare for a performance while knowing nothing about the show itself?
LISA: I think it makes you put a lot more faith in your fellow actors and makes you really feel like a team. Knowing that they will help when you ask and that you will be ready to do the same changes the bond between actors. It is similar to prepping for an improv show, but knowing the outline or format in advance. It also makes you practice more like an athlete, knowing that if you practice your part of the formation (your script) and workout your muscles (breakdown your script and practice what identifiers and key works mean for stage direction), that you will be prepped for game time. The rest is being present in the moment and knowing you did your homework.

Q: What (if anything) is your biggest challenge so far with this technique?
LISA: The biggest challenged I’ve faced so far is trusting the good instincts and tuning out the years of “actor” instincts. I’ve started to find that things that would be too much for conventional theater fit right at home here and that I can usually push those instincts farther. It is a struggle sometimes to fight the urge to “find something to do” in the moments you are not speaking or to not ask “what would my character do in this situation?” The answer is in your script and how you interpret the small clues and key words in the script make your interpretation both correct for you and different from if someone else played that same role.

COMEDY OF ERRORS debuts tonight!

DOUBLE FEATURE
AUGUST 12
Comedy of Errors: 7:30pm
Justin’s
3358 N Southport Ave

AUGUST 16
Comedy of Errors: 7:00pm
Double Falsehood: 8:30pm
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
3905 N Lincoln Ave

AUGUST 19
Double Falsehood: 7:30pm
Justin’s
3358 N Southport Ave

 

Eyes on Actors: Chris Aruffo

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Chris Aruffo is a Chicago-based actor and philologist. His book, A Rational Guide to Verse: Scansion Made Simple (now in its second edition), discusses the use of natural rhythm in the production and interpretation of verse writing.

Q: What made you decide to give Unrehearsed a try?
CHRIS: Lately I’ve found it difficult to commit to any weeks-long “process” to develop a show into production.  The minimal demands of not rehearsing are, right now, ideal for me.

Q: With the recent Unrehearsed workshop under your belt, how would say this technique differs from more conventional acting? Does it differ?
CHRIS: It differs by making a direct connection between the work and the result.  Far too often I’ve seen “work” done at rehearsals from which an actor gains a greater and deeper understanding of the play, its history, its context, or the characters within it, but which in turn fails utterly to influence the actions and text presented by that actor in performance.  In Unrehearsed, the work is designed to always have an evident effect either on specific lines that will be spoken or on particular actions that must be taken.

Q: As a philologist who has published a book specifically about verse interpretation (A Rational Guide to Verse: Scansion Made Simple, now in its second edition), how does this technique react to your knowledge of blank verse? Do they seem at odds with each other, or complimentary?
CHRIS: Unrehearsed technique promotes natural rhythms.  Edgar Allan Poe described a poet as someone who arranges syllables into verse.  That is to say– different syllables have different natural lengths (long and short, also referred to as stressed and unstressed), and arranging syllable lengths into specific patterns produces rhythm.  A skilled poet is, therefore, a writer whose lines, when spoken naturally, will automatically produce their intended rhythms.  As an obvious example, saying out loud Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary immediately conjures the rhythmPoe wished to create.  Shakespeare’s writing exploits natural rhythms in the same way, such that a naive reader will, if reading naturally, almost always unwittingly produce the rhythms of blank verse.  Unrehearsed technique forces an actor to remain naive in speaking the text, because an actor ignorant of the “big picture” cannot confidently impose any interpretation other than the literal meaning of the words.  Consequently, an Unrehearsed actor may be more likely to speak the words without unnatural emphases or pre-selected inflections– and, in doing so, will realize the natural rhythms of the text.

Q: What’s it like to prepare for a performance while knowing nothing about the show itself?
CHRIS: Very similar to preparing for a performance where I do know.  In my own technique, I do my best not to anticipate or control what the other actors do, so I can respond to what they actually give me.  Removing their lines from my script makes that pitfall easier to avoid.

Q: What (if anything) is your biggest challenge so far with this technique?
CHRIS: The scrolls– but perhaps not in the way one might expect.  I read differently from most other people.  When I look at a piece of text, I see whole paragraphs at once.  Having such a large “chunk” in my head makes it easier to intuit, as I read along, how each word and every sentence fits into an overall message, which in turn provides guidance in real time for pace, emphasis, and phrasing.  Only being able to see three or four lines on a scroll makes it more difficult to apprehend the overall flow of a speech.  The narrow four-line window also makes it easier to lose my place, because I don’t have the full shape of the text.

Come check out some natural rhythm with Chris! Check out…

DOUBLE FEATURE
AUGUST 12
Comedy of Errors: 7:30pm
Justin’s
3358 N Southport Ave

AUGUST 16
Comedy of Errors: 7:00pm
Double Falsehood: 8:30pm
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
3905 N Lincoln Ave

AUGUST 19
Double Falsehood: 7:30pm
Justin’s
3358 N Southport Ave

 

Eyes on Actors: Colin Wasmund

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An alum of Western Illinois University, Colin Wasmund starred in Bard in the Barn’s very first show: A Winter’s Tale. He was an Unrehearsed fixture all three years of grad school, and participates in Chicago shows when he finds time in his professional stage schedule.

Q: Tell us about your first Unrehearsed experience.

COLIN: My first year in graduate school at Western Illinois was the first year that Bill Kincaid launched “Bard in the Barn,” which was Unrehearsed Shakespeare performed in front of one of the historic barns outside of Macomb. We (my class) spent the first part of our first acting grad class (Score) with Bill learning how to execute the unrehearsed technique. I was cast as Leontes in The Winter’s Tale. I was terrified. It was extremely difficult and even more rewarding.

Q: You’re performing in Double Falsehood. Is it safe to say this is the first play you know nothing about, or have you done other Unrehearsed shows about which you know little? Does this change your approach much, knowing the play beforehand?

COLIN: I was unfamiliar with The Winter’s Tale when I did that one, which came with a pretty big surprise at the end for my character. I try not to let knowledge of the play affect my performance. It’s important to me to stay true to the technique and try not to let my decisions about the character affect the portrayal. The whole point is to let the technique do that.

Q: One of the defining traits of Unrehearsed is the lack of the 4th Wall. How does that affect you? Is it a challenge, or is it more liberating?

COLIN: Certainly more liberating. I love engaging the audience whenever I am allowed to do so.

Q: For you, how does Unrehearsed relate to more conventional productions? Is there any overlap, or are they entirely different animals?

COLIN: It helps me flag certain things when I do other Shakespeare plays. When doing a “conventional” Shakespeare play, I find that you can start by using the technique of Unrehearsed and then find the places where you need to say “Okay – this is a different world, I’d better ease up a bit.”

Unrehearsed seems like the root of all Shakespeare performance. It’s a great starting point during any Shakespeare rehearsal process.

Q: Do you have a favorite Unrehearsed character/performance?

COLIN: I think Leontes takes the cake for me. There’s nothing quite like your first time… *wink*

Are you yearning for a Wasmund Wink? Come on down to our Double Feature!

DOUBLE FEATURE
AUGUST 12
Comedy of Errors: 7:30pm
Justin’s
3358 N Southport Ave

AUGUST 16
Comedy of Errors: 7:00pm
Double Falsehood: 8:30pm
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
3905 N Lincoln Ave

AUGUST 19
Double Falsehood: 7:30pm
Justin’s
3358 N Southport Ave

Jessie Mutz, Managing Director, waves goodbye

Jessie

Jessie Mutz, Managing Director of the Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company, is picking up and moving back to Florida to further her education. It’s an exciting future, and I (like everyone) wish her the best. Parting is such sweet sorrow, though.

Jessie first met the Unrehearsed World in Summer of 2010. She attended and observed our ReUp, then watched our Chicago debut: Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest. She immediately expressed interest in spreading the technique, fostering classes, and performing more.

This was a dark time for Unrehearsed Shakespeare. Virtually every aspect was managed by one man: me. I had all the company props and costume pieces in my car, since I was homeless. It was a full year before I had the security I needed to produce another show (Shrewthello: Taming of the Shrew and Othello). Jessie was onboard from the get-go, spearheading our advertising, discussing recruitment opportunities, and very happy to finally perform the technique onstage after waiting a full year.

Jessie in her debut as Curtis in Taming of the Shrew

Jessie in her Unrehearsed debut as Curtis in Taming of the Shrew, with Danny Pancratz as Grumio. Photo by John McDaris, Jr.

Most of us were introduced to Unrehearsed via the annual Bard in the Barn festival in Macomb, IL. Even though we’d performed four additional shows in our final year of Grad school, we were still used to getting to perform Unrehearsed just once a year.

Without Jessie Mutz, things may well have stayed that way.

Both our 2010 debut and our 2011 Shrewthello had insular audiences. We weren’t reaching new people (we didn’t even make Facebook events!), and even some of our base was dwindling. In 2012, thanks in no small part to Jessie, we finally started to grow.

Collaboration is how companies thrive, and we kicked that off with Blunt Objects’ Shakespeare I Love You. We worked with four other companies to produce Pericles, each of us handling one of the five acts. Thanks to Jessie, we greatly expanded our notoriety in Chicago with this single performance.

Then we went on a Pirate Ship! With the Tall Ship Windy, we got to perform an hour-long cutting of Comedy of Errors at Navy Pier.

Jessie as Luciana in Bard on the Boat! Opposite her friend and mentor Tiza Garland as Adriana

Jessie as Luciana in Bard on the Boat! Opposite her friend and mentor Tiza Garland as Adriana

It wasn’t until Comedy of Errors that we became a real company, I think. We started having regular meetings (often hosted by Jessie), responsibilities were divvied up and assigned (often to Jessie), and the freedom of delegation allowed us all to thrive in our specific areas of expertise. Imagine producing a show with no design budget and little-to-no control over a cast of 12-to-16 actors, and you can imagine the frustration that was magically lifted from my shoulders, thanks to Jessie.

Probably my favorite photo. Jessie and me at a ReUp before Bard in the Barn 2012

Probably my favorite photo. Jessie and me with Brian Elliott at a ReUp before Bard in the Barn 2012. Photo by John McDaris, Jr.

Along with all these heavy responsibilities (she consistently handled the most mundane and arduous tasks), Jessie has also performed major roles in many of our shows. And deservedly so: there are few actors who so quickly take to the rapid pace, powerful energy, and deep commitment that Unrehearsed requires; or at least, that good Unrehearsed requires.

In 2012, Zack Meyer and I took over a flagging Bard in the Barn festival in Macomb, and Jessie was cast as Rosalind in As You Like It: the largest female role in a single play and the largest Comedic lead in the canon. Preparations for As You Like It were frequently eclipsed by Antony & Cleopatra, the other show in the festival. Despite all this, and despite scheduling and managing text sessions for two shows at once, and despite hosting and managing track proofing sessions, she still managed to deliver a powerful and dynamic performance.

Jessie as Rosalind/Ganymede in As You Like It, assertively interacting with an audience member

Jessie as Rosalind/Ganymede in As You Like It, assertively interacting with an audience member

Oh! and later that year we staged Comedy of Errors again. TheaterRED in Milwaukee put up Bard in the Bandshell, and Jessie performed her first male lead: Antipholus of Syracuse, where (among other things) she got to beat up a Dromio that outweighed her by about a hundred pounds of muscle.

Jessie as Antipholus of Syracuse, practicing some violence with Christopher Elst as Dromio of Ephesus

Jessie as Antipholus of Syracuse, practicing some violence with Christopher Elst as Dromio of Ephesus

2012 was a good year for us, where we sowed and reaped a lot from our new friends in the biz. But in 2013, things really started to explode.

The low overhead of Unrehearsed shows makes it easier to put up productions, and in 2013 we produced nine shows: productions both in Chicago and Milwaukee, small staged readings of new verse plays, and even a high school workshop in Carbondale that Jessie and I ran (thanks to friend and gifted Unrehearser, Ben Ponce). In 2013 alone, Jessie played Viola, Hipolyta, Beatrice, the Host of the Garter (AND Anne Page), AND Lady MacBeth. All in a single year!

Jessie as Hipolyta in Midsummer Night's Dream

Jessie as Hipolyta in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Corey DiNardo

2014 is a bit slower, but she still managed to knock Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Julius Caesar, and Juliet herself off the ol’ Shakespeare bucket-list.

"Ay me..."

Jessie in the Balcony Scene. Photo by Jill Meyer

I’ve frequently said that genius exists in small moments. Jessie’s “Banishment” Monolog in Romeo & Juliet was one of those moments. Her combination of physicality and psychological gesture, her commitment to emotional truth without sacrificing technique, her language, her refusal to judge, and her connection with herself and others, is a rare privilege to observe in Theater. And this was at least 90 minutes in, just when exhaustion starts to set in (and after the crowd-pleasing Mercutio and Tybalt are gone), and less experienced actors might start to flag or fail.

The Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company is suffering a serious loss, but we have grown so much stronger because of Jessie, that we will continue to flourish and grow stronger. And while I hope deeply that she will still be able to attend and perform in some of our shows, I am heartened by the ever-increasing number of actors who show a genuine interest in the technique and freedom and personal growth we can offer. None of this would have been possible without her, and I wouldn’t be the artist I am without her.

Jessie Mutz is a gift to any person or institution that meets her, and I hope Florida appreciates what it has.

If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought
I must attend time’s leisure with my moan,
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.

-Sonnet 44

By for now, Jessie!

By for now, Jessie!

Unrehearsed Workshops finally return to Chicago

Contact jared@unrehearsedchicago.com for more info

Contact jared@unrehearsedchicago.com for more info

At last! This July, the Unrehearsed Shakespeare Company will be offering workshops for new students. Focusing on the Basics, Partnering, Physicality, Storytelling, and preparation, this series will even offer a Masters Class where experienced vets will share with newcomers (and each other) their unique approaches to performing the technique.

Approach Shakespeare with a sense of fun, focus, teamwork, and discovery! For years, the Unrehearsed Technique has been helping actors learn to derive clear motivation and tactics from their text, build dynamically meaningful relationships quickly, react honestly to the unexpected, tell an immediately recognizable story to the audience, and leave their inhibitions at the door.

If you wish to be added to our list of potential students, please contact jared@unrehearsedchicago.com with your contact information.

Eyes on Actors: Glen Wall

Glen Wall in King John

Glen has been performing Unrehearsed Shakespeare since its Illinois inception at Western Illinois University.

Q: You’ve played some enormous roles (Richard III, Coriolanus) as well as supporting (Pistol, Borachio). Does your approach differ depending on the size of the role? What about the role’s notoriety?
GLEN: To answer the last question first, no. Big, small, famous, infamous, or second spear carrier from the left, I treat all my roles similarly and give them much the same approach. That said, with the larger roles I do more work determining what the most important words, concepts, and thoughts are and then give those items more attention and detail because if everything a larger role says has equal value then they tend to get bogged down and slow the process of the play which is probably the biggest sin of unrehearsed (that and not crossing to whom you are speaking), the show must go on despite Richard’s two-page monologue. And I often find the smaller roles more fun, Shakespeare gave some of his best one-liners and action moments to his small roles and I find that their specificity of text gives me more time to focus on the detail of their gestural and vocal life.

Q: You’ve performed Unrehearsed out in the open (Bard in the Barn), in larger theaters (Wauwatosa’s Sunset Studio), and the intimate spaces of Chicago bars. Do you have a preference? Does your technique change depending on venue?
GLEN: My only preference is that the venue have a bar, and honestly not just for my sake. I like that we encourage our audience to behave as an Elizabethan audience would and I find that the liquid courage of a couple adult beverages helps our audiences to shake off their modern day “good audience member” habits and really get into the spirit of the performance. Otherwise I have little preference and enjoy the challenges and opportunities that both types of venue present. Outdoors I can generally “act” bigger and use the full expanse of the space to create some very dynamic action and indoors things become much more intimate and I find myself trying to create a much more detailed and nuanced performance. Basically I attempt to fit the scale of my performance to the scale of the venue.

Q: You’ve been doing Unrehearsed for many years. How has your technique changed over the years?
GLEN: Generally speaking the basics of the technique have become so deeply ingrained that I can devote more time to picking out the details of the text. I spend less time fussing over the you/thee and here/there and more time looking at how the vocabulary, verse structure and punctuation in a character’s text can be used to determine their objectives, tactics and state of being. I also find myself looking for every opportunity to speak directly to the audience or to encourage them to become involved in the action of the story as I feel that audience participation and interaction is one of the key components of our unique approach to Shakespeare.

Q: This is your second time performing Unrehearsed Romeo & Juliet. Do you anticipate many differences between this show and the first (2007)?
GLEN: Absolutely. Every show, even within a run, is different from the last, that’s another of the unique and exciting aspects of what we do. Every time I perform a role I get to reinvent (within the context of the technique) what I do and I’m often working with a different set of actors, frequently in a new space. So there’s no question that there will be differences between this run and the last, and that’s a large part of why I keep coming back to do Unrehearsed, even when it’s a show I’ve done before.

Q: Do you have a favorite Unrehearsed role to date?
GLEN: So many favorites, but off the top of my head I have to say playing Olivia in Twelfth Night at ACTF in Milwaukee a few years ago was a highlight, the jokes that Shakespeare wrote for his contemporaries surrounding the gender bending that was required during his time are so much more fun and apparent when it’s a guy playing that particularly lusty and lady-like role. Other favorites of mine include Tybalt from the Bard in the Barn production of R&J (Sixteen lines, 3 fights and a death scene, yes please!), Macduff from our recent production of Macbeth (again, few lines, lots of fights) and Borrachio from Much Ado (c’mon, his name literally means “Drunk” how can that not be fun?).

Who’s Glen gonna play this time? Come find out!

UNREHEARSED ROMEO & JULIET
Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark Street
May 13 @ 7:30 (doors open at 7:00)
May 17 @ 6:00 (doors open at 5:30)
May 20 @ 7:30 (doors open at 7:00)
General seating; Suggested Donation of $5 at the door

Brutus (Glen Wall) defends himself to Antony. (Sydney Ray as Cinna)

Glen as Brutus in Julius Caesar

Everyone Knows the Play But YOU!

Meyer as Richmond (Richard III)

By Zack Meyer

The first time I performed in R&J was the first time Unrehearsed performed it in 2007. I hadn’t read it by that point and the only version I had seen was the Baz Luhrmann film almost a decade earlier (which I mostly slept through). This was only my second time performing in the Unrehearsed style and I was cast as Romeo. I felt fairly confident because I was a hotshot 20 year old and didn’t know any better.

One of the main aspects in prepping to perform in an Unrehearsed show is that you don’t read the play. You rely on the director to give you tools to survive the battle and when the day comes, you charge into the fray.

As I was working with Bill Kincaid on my text session, I noticed scenes (and only my side of them) that I didn’t remember in the movie. Bill kept saying things like, “You don’t know about this scene? Oh, well you’re going to have fun.” He seemed to enjoy the fact that he was working with a relatively blank slate for such a well-known show.

My confidence rapidly started to wane. My insecurities with the style, knowledge of Shakespeare, and performing raged through my head and heart the longer my text session took.

How am I supposed to perform such an iconic role in a show that I, apparently, don’t know at all?! Everyone remotely involved in Theatre knows this show by heart. How had I gotten to my third year of pursuing a college degree in Theatre and let this one slip by?

I brought it up to Bill that I was overwhelmed and nervous to take this role on while feeling so unprepared. He gave me a piece of advice that keeps ringing true the more I perform.

“Trust the text”

Initially, I was livid. It felt like it was a throw away. I wanted the “OK” to secretly read the play and watch the movie so I could brush up on things. I wanted to know what was going to happen to me. I wanted to know the other side of the arguments from my track. But I decided to trust Bill and the text.

I ran my scroll so many times that I burned through 2 pairs of rubber bands.

The day came. We had beautiful weather at the barn compared to the day before but I was sweating bullets. We learned our rehearsed segments and fights. Insecurities ran through my head like, “Why the hell do I fight Danny if he’s not Tybalt?! Am I missing a scene?!”

The audience piled in and Bill took the stage. He gave his normal speech at the beginning promoting our sponsors and explaining what we do.

As Bill was coming to the end I threw up a prayer, triple checked that my scroll was rolled to the beginning, reminded myself to trust the text and “without further ado, Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.” We’re off!

It felt like I was in a pinball machine. Characters were bouncing off each other. Bouncing off of what I’m saying and vice versa. The first scene felt like a blur but slowly the text started locking in with itself. My lines started to make sense when they aligned with the other tracks. The banter back and forth made sense. The musicality of R&J’s sonnet when they first meet finally made sense. We were all one unit. We may have been 16 separate actors but we had come together that day to put on 1 play. We all had a puzzle piece to contribute.

The show ended and we all felt utterly exhausted but satisfied with what we had just created. Looking back on it, I realized what a great piece of advice Bill had given to me, but it was missing an important piece. “Trust the text and trust your cast-mates”.

Now, as the director of this Unrehearsed production of R&J, I can give the same advice that got me through the first. In Unrehearsed, no one is an island even if you’re the only one who doesn’t know the play.

The Players!

Zack as the First Player (Hamlet)

“OMG! Juliet is DEAD! OMG!” or “The moment I Knew I loved Unrehearsed Shakespeare.”

Pancratz as Buckingham (Richard III)

By Danny Pancratz

SPOILER ALERT: Juliet dies in the end. But that’s not what I want to write about. I’m referring to Act 4 when Juliet is found “dead” on the morning of her impending nuptials. When you think about the most realistic reaction by parents to such a horrible (if true) discovery, what does it look like? What does it sound like? Chaos? Screams? Agonizing loss? I’m sure many of you have seen the moment played that way. 

Now look closer at the text: why are there musicians underscoring the moment with happy songs? To add to the tragedy of the moment? Perhaps. But remember that we, the Audience, know the truth: Juliet is alive. 

Now look closely at the speeches of those who found Juliet. Notice the repetition. Notice how what they’re saying isn’t as important as the fact that they are saying something–anything to try to express what they’re feeling. 

It was this scene, this moment, when I went from intrigued by the Unrehearsed Shakespeare method to completely in love. Why? Because Bill Kincaid in an introductory session — as I’ve seen him do in many workshops at theatre festivals — showed the room how Unrehearsed Shakespeare can reveal a more truthful depiction of this moment than modern conventions. He explained how all these things — the repetitive, redundant speeches of woe, the timing of the musicians — are perhaps clues to something bigger that should be happening: overlapping dialogue. 

After all, the actors would not have had full scripts, but merely sides with their lines and cues. The first folio and other editions put the speeches “in order,” but think back to my first question: how would it *truly* look and sound when adults discover the “dead” body of their beloved Juliet? Chaos, right? 

If we use these clues to tweak the accepted cues for the speeches in this scene we get that chaos. No longer are a mother, father, or nurse waiting for their turn to speak. They can all speak at the same time. All that matters is that one of them cues the next important action. This immediate response creates an honest chaos. Not to mention how it saves the actors from having to find other behavior to mask the silence of waiting to speak. 

Now the musicians’ underscoring of dramatic speeches becomes a hilarious cacophony of contradicting emotions. It becomes a scene befitting the first 3 acts before it: funny. And honest to the reality of the scene.  

And the best part if all of this? Overlapping dialogue’s usage is not limited to comedy. If you’ve seen one of our shows, you’ve seen it used in any moment the “Director” (the person who tracked out the roles) discovered clues in the text to make this an option. In this latest edition of R&J we’re starting from scratch. I can’t wait to discover which moments Zack found for us to experiment with overlapping dialogue. I hope you’ll come out to see it too. SPOILER ALERT: It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Danny as Cassio (Othello 2012)

Danny as Cassio (Othello 2012)