Sunday, May 31, 2009

"the play's the thing"

It's difficult to describe the unique spirit of camaraderie that has developed this week within our company. The rehearsal process has been more of an exploration than a recitation, and each night the spark of creative ingenuity becomes brighter and more energized. We have constructed set pieces, explored blocking choices, glued wet newspaper to each other's faces, and grilled quite enough burgers to go around.

With a cast of only eleven actors, and without the help of a director, design team, or stage crew, we have begun to discover some of the surprising realities behind original practices. Each scene and each character, every night, are being imbued with more life and creative energy, as our eleven cast members share insights and ideas to help make the show as engaging and lively as possible.

The result, so far, is a truly vibrant work of collaborative art - a moving collage of colors, shapes, characters and time periods that seems to grow organically from the grass on which we perform. The enthusiasm is becoming infectious, and our company is increasingly unified by it. It's joyous, effervescent, and genuinely playful.

It is, after all, a play. And how aptly named. In fact, that may be the best word to describe this process: play. It is deep, childlike, adventurous play.

And the process has been so affecting, so liberating and fun, that I think it would indeed be a shame for anyone to miss out. Please, come play with us! Our first show is Friday at the Riverton Arts Festival!

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See you at the play!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"here is a marvelous convenient place for our rehearsal!"

Last night, the Grassroots Shakespeare Company met for its first rehearsal, in a small corner of Canyon Glen Park, just a few miles up Provo Canyon. This is a photo of the stage, discretely sequestered from the rest of the park, and nestled against a wooded slope with a few rows of gnarled benches for an audience. It was here that we met to explore our cue scripts for the first time, and I'm happy to report that, excepting two minor errors, they work.

Relying on cue lines alone to signal entrances, exits, and our own dialogue, each of us stumbled giddily through the play, discovering relationships and plot developments as they happened. Of course, some believe that Shakespeare's players performed in much the same way - discovering events as they unfolded - but with no rehearsal at all! They would simply memorize their cue scripts, arrive the morning of the performance for a quick fight call or choreography session, and then perform the play for the first (and often ONLY) time, right then and there!

Using cue scripts, you get a sense of just how much embedded stage direction exists in Shakespeare's work. His text tells the actor EVERYTHING they need to know about the action, the plot, and the characters, because the text is all the actors had! It's already been a rewarding process, just to explore the way these cue scripts work, and I think it will translate into a very immediate and fresh portrayal of Much Ado About Nothing.

If you're excited to participate in our production as an audience member, please share your excitement with your friends and family by sending them a link to this post, or to our facebook fan page! We hope to see all of you soon!

Our performances will be every Monday, Friday, and Saturday night in June, with the exception of the 15th, 19th, and 20th. We'll begin performances around 7pm, in local parks and at arts festivals. To stay appraised of our schedule, become a fan on Facebook, or email us at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


So now this great experiment has officially begun.
That was by far the most outrageous and fast-paced audition I have ever been a part of. For those of you who weren't there, it went something like this:
Fourteen actors and one patient stage manager gathered together on the top floor of the library at Ten 'o Clock. Some had prepared sides, others had not. Some were familiar with the text, some were not. Everyone was given a chance to read and then we voted. And voted again.
When the dust settled, we had a cast.
The process was both democratic and anarchical. A strange blend of co-operation, competition, and concession.
And boy was it entertaining.

If we can be just half that interesting when we get on stage, we'll have a fantastic show on our hands.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Who are we?

Hello, world.

Or, to be more accurate: hello, Utah.

We are the Grassroots Shakespeare Company.

We are here to bring Shakespeare's plays to Utah's masses in their most accessible, and most authentic form.

We perform outdoors, in natural light, with hardly any rehearsal beforehand. Our plays are fast-paced, funny, intriguing, and simple. Just as they were in Shakespeare's day, four-hundred years ago.

You see, Shakespeare's players were an interesting bunch. None of them had a whole copy of the script, for one thing. Instead, they had "cue scripts," consisting only of their cues and their lines. This meant they had to listen extremely carefully to each other in order to perform their parts. On top of that, their rehearsal process was unbelievably short - in fact, some people believe they didn't rehearse at all!

Also, they had no director, no designers, and no "concept." Instead, the actors directed themselves, brought their own costumes and props, and relied on the sun to light them. As a result, the plays they performed were probably nothing like what you'll see today at, say, the Utah Shakespearean Festival. At the Globe, Shakespeare's plays probably had anachronistic costumes, very high audience interaction, and a lot of improvisation.

In the spirit of these original practices, the Grassroots Shakespeare Company was born to explore the text of Shakespeare's plays by performing them under similar conditions. We use cue scripts, we use the sun, we improvise, and we bring our own costumes and props. What you'll see, if you come to one of our shows, is a vibrant, high-energy performance of some beautiful language and fun music, probably in a grassy, sunlit park.

All of our performances are "Pay-What-You-Will," meaning if you hate the show, it's free! Our inaugural performance, appearing at local arts festivals during the month of June, is Much Ado About Nothing - a charming comedy with something for everyone!

If you'd like more information, or would like the Grassroots Shakespeare Company to perform for any reason at all - festivals, fund-raisers, company parties, drama/english classes - send your inquiry to today!