Post by Titus Andronicus cast member AJ Taysom:
“I don’t understand Shakespeare.” According to local legend, every time someone utters this phrase a thespian drops down dead. I just made that up. Of course if I do inexplicably die someday soon, it goes without saying that I will be suspicious. It also goes without saying that Shakespeare’s language can in fact be difficult; even for actors. Telling yourself you won’t understand what the actors onstage are talking about is a good excuse not to see a show, and may even be your excuse to skip out on ours.
My Grassroots experience has been educational to say the least; I have learned more about staging, costuming, and dramatic structure these past few weeks than I have in an entire semester of school. My experience has also been very humbling. Allow me to explain.
During the rehearsal process, I was terrified for opening night. My main concern was that audiences weren’t going to understand anything that was happening onstage. I had essentially started to make up my mind about everyone who was going to see the show before they even saw it. I assumed that people would simply leave not having understood Shakespeare. Think about how many second hand thespian deaths I must have caused. Opening night came and went, and I was shocked to discover that audiences understood completely what was happening. The applause and laughter came at all of the exactly right moments. In fact, at times I think they understood more than I did.
The give-and-take nature of a Grassroots performance allows for a unique transparency in the storytelling. As the audience reacts to what happens onstage, it builds an interactive narrative with a logical flow that everyone contributes to. It really is magical.
Overall, I have learned two things. You will understand the show; not a single person I have spoken to hasn’t. The nature of the production is catered towards your understanding, and we all have faith in you.
Even if at the end of the day we struggle with Shakespeare and his language, we can rest assured that Shakespeare undoubtedly understood us; and there’s something to that. It’s what makes this work so beautifully well.
About AJ Taysom:
AJ is playing Chiron in Titus Andronicus
This is AJ Taysom's first ever show performing with the Grassroots Shakespeare Company, and he is thrilled to be doing so. He was recently seen as Lucentio in UVUs production of The Taming of The Shrew. His favorite Shakespeare play is Henry IV Part 1. His other non-acting hobbies include puppetry and film history.
Titus Andronicus performs at the Castle Amphitheater in Provo Utah from Oct 17th-November 1st 2014. Tickets and Details HERE.