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Andronicus Brings a Little Blood to ND

Brenna Williams | Thursday, March 22, 2012

hakespeare’s name has become synonymous with high art, beautiful language and the scariest days of high school English.

This weekend, the Not-So-Royal Shakespeare Company (NSR) presents “Titus Andronicus,” reminding the Notre Dame community even the Bard could be as gritty, bloody and violent as the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

“Titus Andronicus,” one of Shakespeare’s first tragedies, tells the story of Titus, a general in the Roman army. Because of its content, it’s often one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known and least performed works.

“[The show] is very dark, but it is also a lot of fun,” senior Tara Duffy, the show’s producer, said. “It’s the equivalent of an Elizabethan action movie with characters hell-bent on revenge and power.”

To some, the idea of performing Shakespeare with five weeks to prepare might sound daunting.

However, student-produced shows usually have limited production schedules, so it has taken a dynamic cast and crew to make the show come together as well as it has.

“We have a great cast that is very diverse. They have all dedicated a lot of time and energy but you can tell that they are enjoying it, and that kind of enthusiasm is infectious,” Duffy said.

As the only student group dedicated to producing the works of Shakespeare, the mission of NSR is to make his works more accessible and fun for a contemporary audience.

For this performance, the original script was adapted to run under two hours and was shifted from its original Roman setting to 1970s biker culture.

“What struck me most about the show is how masculine it is. There’s all this bravado, all of this focus on codes of behavior and honor,” senior Kevin Barsaloux, the show’s director, said. “This 1970s biker culture has those same codes of conduct, that same rigid honor system, teeming with violence underneath. It was a natural leap for me.”

In addition to the updated setting, the cast and crew have gone to great lengths to further innovate student theater.

The crew brought in theater students trained in fight choreography and make-up to teach the cast tricks of the trade, including how to work with fake blood.

It has greatly benefited the overall production experience, sophomore stage manager Fiora O’Meara said.

“It’s been really exciting with all of the blood work, the action, the fighting. All of it has been really fun,” she said.

The show fills Washington Hall’s Mainstage Theatre with its 15 actors’ larger-than-life performances, detailed sets, leather-heavy costuming and the buckets of blood.

NSR’s production of “Titus Andronicus” promises an evening full of all of the things we’ve come to expect from modern entertainment, but in a way only Shakespeare could deliver it.

“People love seeing characters behaving badly: scheming, cheating, insulting, fighting and killing in cold blood. Not-So-Royal Shakespeare Company wants to provide a delicious guilty pleasure for Notre Dame and the greater South Bend community,” Barsaloux said. “It’s got a lot of stuff in it and all of that stuff comes together in an odd, strange way.”

“Titus Andronicus,” produced by the Not-So-Royal Shakespeare Company, runs tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. on the Washington Hall Mainstage. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $2 for students and $4 for non-students.