On performance evenings, tickets will be available for sale and pick up in the University Theatre box office starting one hour before each play begins.
I wrote two versions of this Director’s Note. One is an exegesis of Shakespeare’s entire body of work so insightful, so illuminating, so profound, it will undoubtedly revolutionize the field. I hope you get to read it someday. Unfortunately, you’re reading this version, which means that something went horribly, horribly wrong in rehearsal.
Mutiny is rare in the American theatre, but actors are capable of anything. Best case scenario, I’m being held against my will in the boiler room of Ian’s hardware store in Fort Collins, or possibly chained in the dank basement of Patrick’s house in Stapleton. Or perhaps stuffed into the disgusting trunk of Evan’s car, with his rap collection, his empty Red Bull cans, and his books-on-tape about Hitler. That’s if I’m lucky. But I fear things have gone too far for such a happy ending; I fear too many harsh words have been spoken; I fear I am about to pay the ultimate price for my devotion to William Shakespeare.
I don’t blame the actors – not entirely. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival must shoulder some of the blame. Most of it, really. They set this Boschean nightmare into motion back in February, when they asked me to direct The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, surely the grandest undertaking in the history of the English-speaking theatre, bigger than Nicholas Nickleby, bigger than The Mahabharata, bigger than The Kentucky Cycle – and then asked me to accomplish this epic feat with a cast of three. That’s not a typo. Three (3). It’s egregious.
Still, it might have worked out, if not for Evan’s blind, unreasoning, pathological fear of one of Shakespeare’s plays.
“I won’t do Hamlet,” he said. “It’s too much pressure, I can’t handle it.”
Now, I know from experience you mustn’t negotiate with actors, ever. The only thing they understand is a show of strength. So…
“You will do Hamlet,” I retorted. “Plus, I’ve decided to add the sonnets – all of them.”
From the look in Evan’s eyes, I’m quite certain this was the moment my fate was sealed – I fear my body will never be found.
If you’re reading this, it’s because I have been, one way or another, forcibly eliminated from the rehearsal process. Honestly, I don’t know what these actors will do after I’m gone. I don’t think they know, either. But I have two final requests – the first for you, Gentle Theatre Patron – the second for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival:
1) Don’t blame me for what you’re about to see.
2) Please use my final paycheck to purchase a modest brass placque for the front of the UT stage, with this inscription:
1963 – 2013
I lived for Shakespeare
And for Shakespeare died
The Complete Works fiasco
Was not my fault – I tried
A hilarious homage for Shakespeare lovers, haters and everyone in between as three actors frantically attempt to perform the entire canon — all 37 plays! — in a couple of hours. That necessitates some ... creative editing. Cheer the histories on the gridiron! Get down with Othello through the magic of rap! Pick up culinary tips courtesy of Titus Andronicus! "Shakespeare as written by Reader's Digest, acted by Monty Python, and performed at the speed of the minute waltz." — Los Angeles Herald
Audience members who attended CSF’s Noises Off in 2012 will already be quite familiar with farce. Designed to make the audience laugh, farces such as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) are not concerned necessarily with realistic characters or dramatic situations, but with the ridiculous and the hilarious. In The Complete Works, we get the best of reality and hysteria. The actors play themselves, along with most of the characters in the canon, and sometimes their real lives bleed onto the stage.
Of course, Shakespeare knew the value of a good farce. The Comedy of Errors is filled with improbable situations and clownish characters. This summer’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream features the play within the play, “The Most Lamentable Comedy, and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe,” presented by a group of “rude mechanicals” whose attempts at theatricality prove side-splittingly funny. That said, it’s doubtful Shakespeare ever recognized the comic value of Titus Andronicus — it took an entirely different sort of genius to realize that!
Developed by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, this script is the result of intense research (two whole books!), years of performing Shakespeare and a tendency to improvise in performance. Of course, this means that we can’t be certain what you’ll see on the stage. But the result is sure to be a hysterical romp through all of Shakespeare’s plays, with a few (probably true) historical facts tossed in. So sit back, relax, and enjoy all 37 plays in 97 minutes!
— Hadley Kamminga-Peck, dramaturg
Plan your visit
Most CU Presents performances take place on the beautiful University of Colorado Boulder campus. Take some time to explore our venues, find out how to get here and get more tips on what to do while you’re in town.Plan Your Visit - Plan your visit
The University of Colorado is committed to providing equal access to individuals with disabilities. If you are planning to attend an event take some time to review our accessibility services.Accessibility - Accessibility Services