Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Summer Touring Shows

This Summer we aim to be more ambitious than ever before.

We're going to assemble two shows in May and perform them in Rep throughout June.
On top of that, we'll be attempting a remount of last year's production of Romeo and Juliet.
It's going to be a whirlwind ride and there's always the distinct possibility of epic failure.

Our season isn't determined by an artistic director, a producer, or even a director. Our shows are picked by the company who will perform them. That's our philosophy--get the right people on board first, and it doesn't matter so much what show you end up doing, because you'll already have a talented and committed group of artists ready to tackle just about anything.

Last week we assembled our company in a most unusual manner. We let everyone who attended callbacks vote on who they thought should join the company.

Earlier this week, we met for the first time as an ensemble and voted on which shows we should produce.
There were a lot of great suggestions and even more good arguments:

The Main Show
We've got nine men and five women in the company this year. We decided that the main show should offer ample opportunity for the women to showcase their talents, as the Second Show we're doing will, in the spirit of true original practices, feature an all-male cast.
We threw around a lot of titles, but the main contenders were:
The Winter's Tale
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Twelfth Night
As You Like It
As Hamlet offers few parts for women, it was out of the running almost immediately. We gradually narrowed it down to Winter's Tale, Midsummer, and As You Like It, and after much deliberation on the merits of each work, settled on As You Like It for it's accessibility, broad appeal, numerous female roles, and strong ensemble characters.

The Second Show
This is new territory for Grassroots. We've never done an all-male show before, and carefully weighed the pros and cons of each possible title. Those most in the running were:
Taming of the Shrew
Twelfth Night
Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Hamlet and Macbeth both offered the possibility of strong dramatic female roles. Taming of the Shrew and Merry Wives of Windsor both came with the added bonus of advertising a show with references to women in the title--who would be played by men! Twelfth Night carried the fantastic challenge of a man playing a woman playing an man and the comic confusion that audiences both modern and Elizabethan would have delighted in. After talking things over, the vote came down between Merry Wives and Midsummer: Merry Wives being a strong choice for lovable Falstaff and the intrigue of seeing Mistress Ford and Mistress Quickly being played by men, and Midsummer offering accessibility and stronger name recognition.
In the end we went with Midsummer because it will resonate with audiences who have likely seen it before and will be familiar with the story, but in a new way--as we will wager that few have seen it staged with an all male cast.

The Remount
Of all our plans, this one will likely be the most challenging to pull off. We'll have to work hard to get as many of our former company members together again for a short rehearsal process--perhaps only 2 or 3 evenings. And this will be on top of an already crammed schedule. All the same, we're going to go for it! Hold us to it!

2011 Summer Touring Season:

As You Like It

A Midsummer Night's Dream--All Male Cast

Romeo and Juliet: Encore Presentation

All performances in June. 
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