Visiting actors to perform ‘Taming of the Shrew‘
Madison Riehle | Wednesday, February 28, 2018
The Actors from the London Stage are returning to Notre Dame this week for their 36th show on-campus. The group will perform Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in Washington Hall, Wednesday through Friday. The actors will also work with classes throughout the rest of the week.
“Actors from the London Stage has 14 shows in its repertoire that they do with five actors,” Scott Jackson, executive director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame, said. “The last time we did ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ was spring of 2008. It was time in the rotation for it to come back.”
Jackson said that Shakespeare at Notre Dame not only hosts the Actors from the London Stage twice a year before the group departs on its two month–long rotation across the United States, but also serves as the administrative base for the scheduling and logistics of their tours in the United States.
“This is a fascinating piece to do in this idiom because of the intrinsic problems with it, because there’s five actors playing 25 to 30 roles, but in this play some of these characters are in disguise, so it’s an added complication,” Chris Donnelly, a member of the Actors from the London Stage said.
The play is performed with minimal costumes and props in order to change characters quickly, Donnelly said.
The actors were cast by the associate directors of the program in October and November and began preparations for the play in January. The five actors also serve as the directors of the play and make all of the artistic choices.
“The main thing I’ve learned about it is the ability to easily give a note and take a note, which is a very difficult thing in our profession,” Donnelly said. “Because there is no director, you have to be each other’s eyes at the front. It’s good because you’re going to get five very different perspectives working together.”
In addition to their three performances between Wednesday and Friday, the actors will also visit various classrooms to explore Shakespeare’s words and put them into action.
“The actors go into class and they bring the actor’s perspective into various classes,” Jackson said. “They come in and illuminate the text, bringing it to life from a performance standpoint. It’s also a great way for the actors to see the states and try your hand at teaching because, for a lot of them, it’s the first time that they’ve ever taught.”
Expanding beyond English or theater classrooms, the actors will meet with students from different backgrounds, including business and philosophy classes.
“It’s really interesting how relevant what we do can be in most classes,” Donnelly said. “If you’re a lawyer, you’ve got to be able to stand there stand there in court, or a business majors have to be able to run teams. You’ve got to have a level of confidence, a level of communication, a level of eye contact.”
Jackson said that Shakespeare’s work is still applicable in the contemporary world.
“Shakespeare has a sheer versatility to his works; in terms of being able to apply his works into all these different settings and cultures, we can all find a little bit of ourselves reflected back in his works that lends his voice a certain resonance, especially at a Catholic university like Notre Dame,” Jackson said.