Auditions open for Shakespeare play
Christian Myers | Monday, February 24, 2014
Students have the chance to find their own midsummer night’s dreams again this year with the Young Company, a group that allows talented undergraduate and graduate students to perform as a part of the 15th annual Shakespeare Festival at Notre Dame.
Grant Mudge, Ryan producing artistic director of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, said the Festival organizers and the two main directors are currently gearing up for the Young Company auditions. Students accepted to the group will perform as part of the Festival in both their designated production and alongside professionals in the Professional Company production. He said Notre Dame students will be joined by students from other universities, primarily in the Midwest, who will come to campus for the opportunity to audition.
The students selected will take part in three weeks of training in the summer and then will begin touring the Michiana area, within a 1.5-hour travel time radius of Notre Dame, between July 20 and August 25, Mudge said. They will also work with professional actors to stage “Henry IV,” which will run from Aug.19 to Aug. 31.
Auditions for the Young Company will take place on campus this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Regis Philbin Studio Theatre of the Debartolo Performing Arts Center, and the necessary application forms can be found at shakespeare.nd.edu, Mudge said. Students currently studying abroad will have the opportunity to submit video auditions, he said.
Mudge, who is running the Festival for the second time, said the Festival will offer four different elements: ShakeScenes, the Young Company production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” the Professional Company production of “Henry IV” and the Actors From the London Stage production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”
“The anniversary reveals how much of a tradition of Shakespeare we have here,” Mudge said. “It’s really within the fabric of our history as a university.
“The history of Shakespeare on campus is astonishing to me and most folks don’t realize how extensive it is.”
Mudge said the Young Company will be directed by West Hyler. Hyler has worked on Broadway as an assistant director of “Jersey Boys” and directed productions of the same show internationally. He has also been a director with the Big Apple Circus on “Legendarium,” with several large Las Vegas Casinos on “Panda” and with various regional theatres nationwide.
“He’s got this very wide range of experience,” Mudge said.
The other director, Michael Goldberg, has a background in Chicago theatre and will be directing the Professional Company production of “Henry IV,” in which Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part 1” and “Henry IV, Part 2” are “conflated” into one play.
Mudge said “Henry IV” was chosen because it was the first full Shakespeare play performed on campus 150 years ago.
“I think it’s a great lens, doing ‘Henry IV’ on the 150th anniversary of its first performance at Notre Dame, through which we can view not only our history on campus but also our national experience,” he said. “It was 1864, at the height of the Civil War, and they chose to stage a play that says: ‘Those opposed eyes,/ Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,/ All of one nature, of one substance bred,/ Did lately meet in the intestine shock/ And furious close of civil butchery/ Shall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks,/ March all one way and be no more opposed/ Against acquaintance, kindred and allies.’”
The crux of the play is the dilemma of young Henry IV over whether to follow the model of Sir John Falstaff and descend into debauchery or that of his father and become a serious monarch, Mudge said.
“Come see Henry IV because it has everything. It is both hilarious and very moving, which I think is at the heart of what Shakespeare likes to do,” he said.
Mudge said the famous literary critic Harold Bloom deemed Falstaff to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest characters, on par with Hamlet. Falstaff also appears in a different context in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” which was chosen for the Young Company for this reason.
“It’s not often you get to see the wife-chasing Falstaff and the “Henry IV” Falstaff in the same season,” Mudge said. “I’m pleased we’re going to have that.”