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Hoosier Shakes Makes Plays: Artistic Development

One of Hoosier Shakes’ goals is “to vitalize the performance of Shakespeare…for the diverse communities of Grant and Wabash Counties, Indiana by presenting inspiring, accessible, literate, experiential theatrical performance.”

We do this by embracing a number of early modern staging practices in our performances, including:

Universal Lighting

Shakespeare’s theatres, and many others, enjoyed light that illuminated actor, stage, and audience alike, allowing for engagement between the actor and the audience member.

A Surrounded Space

Throughout theatre history, and especially in Shakespeare’s theatres, audiences surrounded a central performance space now known as thrust and arena staging. When the audience surrounds the playing space, they are part of the world of the play, visible to actor and other audience members, participating in the performance.

Simple Staging

Early modern theatres didn’t have elaborate sets. In Shakespeare’s theatres, acting companies performed different plays each day, so there wasn’t time for a complete set to be built. Simple sets upend the economics of making theatre, putting the emphasis on actor and text.

Doubling

Many Shakespeare plays, from Hamlet to Macbeth to the histories, have dozens of characters, but early modern playing companies often had casts between 12 and 15. With a small group of actors and many characters, it was common practice for actors to play more than one role.

Enlivened Costuming

With simple sets and doubled actors, costumes are of critical importance to Shakespeare’s theatres. They served as the primary visual draw for a production and helped distinguish between characters. Importantly, Shakespeare’s theatres wore what was for them modern dress. Think the equivalent of a t-shirt and jeans, an evening gown, a tuxedo, or military fatigues for teenagers, ladies-in-waiting, lords, or soldiers, respectively.

Shipwreck scene from Pericles (2016).

Here’s what one patron had to say about our style,

“What I love most about Hoosier Shakes is the incorporation of the modern music before & during the show. It really makes the themes of the show relevant and it’s super fun. I also loved the physicality and the…. It was high energy and really worked. I also liked the doubling of characters and how much sense it made for those characters….”

And we do all this while presenting two plays in repertory. Join us this summer when you can see Othello: The Moor of Venice one night and As You Like It the next, or vice versa.

 

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