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Watch a Not So Royal Common Tale

Brenna Williams | Thursday, September 22, 2011


It is no secret that Notre Dame has a love affair with Shakespeare. This weekend the Not-So-Royal Shakespeare Company is bringing some of the Bard’s greatest hits to campus with its show “Watch a Common Tale Ye Mortals.”  

The company has put together a creative collection of scenes from 25 of Shakespeare’s plays.

“I applied to direct the show with the concept that I would do a scene from every Shakespeare tragedy and comedy,” Director Clara Ritger said, joking, “because no one should be forced to suffer though the histories.”

When asked about the daunting task of putting together a cohesive script on her own, Ritger said that she went in with a plan.

“Aside from the first and last scenes, which are natural introductions and conclusions taken from two of Shakespeare’s shows, the rest of the 25 plays are grouped by theme commonalities.”

Ritger has accomplished an amazing feat, not only finding scenes from 25 plays that work together, but also intertwining several scripts together in each scene, enabling some of Shakespeare’s most enduring characters to share the stage for the first time.

Cast member Joe Crouch developed the show’s name by using a letter from the title of each featured play.

“It reflects how eclectic the show is, mixing and matching from a wide gamut of shows,” said Tara Duffy, the show’s producer.

Ritger and the production team have put this show together with a production schedule of only three weeks.

“Even though it can be stressful at times, there is something fun in that kind of urgency,” Duffy said.

In a semester that has already seen a lot of Shakespeare through Summer Shakespeare and Actors from the London Stage, these students are bringing something fresh to some of the most beloved texts in the English language.

“You can hear three songs a million times but somehow a mash-up of those three is still really exciting to hear,” Duffy said. “You notice things that you never picked up on when listening to them individually — certain parallels or similarities. That’s what we have: Shakespeare mash-ups.”

Brilliantly adding to the structured grouping of the scenes is the fact that the cast is relatively small, only 15 people performing 25 scenes. That means that each of the actors is in anywhere from two to four scenes, tying everything together through the fluid nature of the casting. The audience is able to see commonalities not only in the scenes themselves, but in the characters the actors bring to life.

The Not-So-Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Watch a Common Tale Ye Mortals” runs tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall’s Lab Theatre. Tickets are $3 and can be purchased at the LaFortune box office or at the door.