Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Tour 2014 - Jessica Myer: "I’ve spent most of my life being apathetic about Shakespeare"

By Summer Tour cast member Jessica Myer:

I can’t write about Grassroots, I can’t fully express why I needed to be a part of this company without first confessing one of my deep, dark secrets:

I’ve spent most of my life being apathetic about Shakespeare. It wasn’t a question of being exposed to it. I read a children’s story version of The Tempest and A Winter’s Tale as a kid and enjoyed them. I mean, it wasn’t The Baby Sitter’s Club, but it was okay. I watched my high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet and couldn’t care less about the title characters. I acted out Caesar’s demise in my English class with a bunch of other students who didn’t understand 2 out of every 5 words they were reading and whose pubescent, ennui-laden readings were more than enough to earn them their participation grade. I landed the part of Viola in Twelfth Night at my Community College. There were like, three people in the cast who seemed comfortable with the material and I wasn’t one of them.

It’s a secret that’s admittedly more of a dramatic revelation among my theater friends than others. In my social circle, O Lord my Bard’s canon is to be respected, quoted, revered, and revisited in time of need. I knew my indifference made me  an oddity so I avoided the subject. I didn’t want to be the real-life troll playing devil’s advocate with the merit of something so universally loved. I didn’t want to seem like another proponent of anti-intellectualism.  However, I secretly figured that what most people meant when they said they loved Shakespeare was that they loved feeling superior to classless plebeians [like me] who didn’t. In my mind, if there was one author who didn't live up to his own hype, it was Shakespeare. Forgive me for applying an old cliche, but that version of me would have said that he's okay, but "He's not Shakespeare."

...Except that he is Shakespeare. THE Shakespeare. And, I could never shake the feeling that it didn't seem like a collective fluke that generations of people would re-read, re-mount, and re-imagine his stories, perpetually resurrecting his work with no end in site. Why has Shakespeare's presence in our cultural subconscious not gone the way of other Elizabethan practices like shaving your forehead into a five-head or eating roasted peacock? What makes Shakespeare’s works enduring aside from the fact that they’re royalty-free? I knew I that I must be missing something and I wanted to want to understand. You know, someday. I’m a busy girl.

Which brings me to how I stumbled on Grassroots. I can’t remember why my sister and I were at Nielsen’s Grove Park that Summer night in 2011. But as we walked by the players stomping around on a provisional wooden stage, the lure of a free play in the open air on a perfect evening was too tempting to pass up. There was nothing to do but cede to serendipity, sit, and watch. I didn’t have the benefit of hearing the play’s intro, so I didn’t know this was an original practice Shakespeare company. I didn’t know why the costumes looked all mish-mosh and anachronistic. I didn’t even notice that there wasn’t much of a set. But more importantly, I didn’t know ahead of time that when the actors rehearsed the show they had plebeians, like me,  in mind.

What I did notice was my own genuine belly laugh. I did notice that I effortlessly understood what the actors were saying without the benefit of reviewing the Sparknotes beforehand. I noticed children in the audience just as into it as I was. I was briefly scandalized by audience members booing and shouting answers at the actors onstage, but the performers appeared to relish these interactions, and the lines they recited in return seemed to anticipate the audience’s perceived harassment. I kept looking over at my delighted sister to make sure that she was seeing this brilliant thing happen the same way I was, that she understood it too. It wasn’t just me.

As the play unfolded so did a rush of memories from high school Shakespeare lessons detailing the messy rabble of unwashed groundlings, hecklers, the music, the poetic innuendo. The manic genius of everything washed over me. I had to see the magic to believe it, but at last, I was  in on it. The appeal of Shakespeare finally clicked for me and I knew that this was my ticket to understanding and appreciating the genius of these timeless works. I wanted to share this experience with my fellow man and give back what had been given to me. I wanted to be a part of it. I had to be a part of it.

...and now I am.

And it’s exhausting. We put two shows up in four weeks and I rarely feel sure of what I’m doing. And, for anyone who has spoken publicly in any capacity, the prospect of encouraging hecklers is terrifying. And, I can be kind of a princess in that I don’t  like being outside with the sun to burn me and the bugs to eat me. And I sweat a lot. I’m a sweaty, sweaty girl. And every time I get to As You Like It’s epilogue I’m completely out of breath from the break-neck, high-energy pace we maintain during our shows. But, I am having the time of my life. I have never met so many interesting, fun, talented, and creative people with such varied interests. I learned to crochet chainmail,  made a pipe-cleaner mustache, and saggy rice boobs. I’ve exhausted every creative reserve I have and still feel dwarfed by the skills of the people I’m on stage with. I’m so proud of these shows and so happy to be a part of this.

So, come and hear the words, for the first time or for the hundredth. My hope is that I can give to you what was given to me: A deeper understanding of humanity, a connection with great intellectuals who came before, and a damn good time.

And if you can, bring someone you think may not enjoy it. You never know….

About Jessica Myer:

This is Jessica’s first time appearing with Grassroots Shakespeare and she couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity. She’s been involved with community theater in Utah County for a few years now and has most recently appeared as Claire in Little Happy Secrets and Dolores in Blind Date. Her favorite Shakespeare plays are The Tempest, Winter’s Tale and As You Like It.

***Video featuring Jessica Myer coming soon. Check our facebook page later this week for the video, then come and see our shows! Details at and our Facebook Event. *** 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Tour 2014 - Brooks Lindberg: "the only preparation you need to do before you see a Shakespeare show is have a heart."

By Summer Tour cast member Brooks Lindberg:

Anything needing to have been said of Shakespeare has been done already. You can follow all the letters of the world trying to understand him, disprove him, debate on the chronological order of his works... but that’s all noise and you can’t find or say anything that hasn’t been put forth already.

The rest of this reading then is selfish in that it deals primarily with me. Memories, like art, are meant most for those who create them. What I offer in the following is what Shakespeare means to me and a little rant at the end.

Twelve years old. My back is stained in purples and reds. I’m half way up a slot canyon being drained by the sun of my color about two miles outside of town all because my Grandma told me: “I think you could play a better Hamlet than James Dean.” I think she’s full of it, because Dean is near perfect but I don’t know who Hamlet is so I burn on and on, reading Caesar then MacBeth and then as shade forms in the crag I finish Hamlet.

Thirteen. My father’s sent me a letter full of lines and quotes from thinkers and writers that he won’t give parentheses to, because he wants to be them. He says, “to thine own self be true.” I know the line and the rest of the speech. I’ve been Polonius for my brother many times. I’ve bled with Laerates and I weep with Horatio for Hamlet in that silence after midnights.

Fourteen... eighteen and every year between... then on nights where I come home from college... my youngest sister half dreaming asks me while I am on her floor, “say that... ah?.. ‘honor’ speech?” and I’ll start with “my gentle Romans” and finish on “...this was a man.” She’s sleeping and I close her bedroom door and say “I love you.” And sometimes King Lear walks to his bedroom.

A young boy told me once that he had seen Hamlet. I figured there’s no way he got any of it. So I asked him what Hamlet is about. He said, “It’s about family.”

Another time I saw a gentleman get up just before the assassination in a production of Julius Caesar and say: “...ah ta hell with it.”

As a rule, I generally don’t know a lot... but when I think Shakespeare and I get away from my memories two things come to mind. One: the only preparation you need to do before you see a Shakespeare show is have a heart. The rest is taken care of because Shakespeare invented that part of it that causes it to pulse. Two: we’re nothing more than a collection of words, but we only have words after something has happened. We stub our toe and then curse. We bight down on the apple and then think “sweet.” We feel the burning sand in our eyes and then yawn “I’m tired.” If we are going to be filled up and be riddled by words, like characters in a text, then we best choose wisely. Our life is ink and we are given a page. Fill it up “too well.”

About Brooks Lindberg

This is Brooks’ first show with Grassroots Shakespeare. Brooks has been acting and directing for several years in places such as Snow College, various theatres in Salt Lake and everything else between Cache and Sevier County. He is a rebel and is pleased to be performing! He thanks his family, teachers und sein Lieblings.

***Video featuring Brooks Lindberg coming soon. Check our facebook page later this week for the video, then come and see our shows! Details at and our Facebook Event. *** 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Tour 2014 - Timothy Peay: "You get to customize your very own Shakespeare show!"

By Summer Tour cast member Timothy Peay:

Now is a great time to be living. Thanks to advances in technology and the Internet basically everything is available to us. Not only that but basically everything is also customizable to us, ourselves. We feel great because this one person in the universe, us, can have so many things that are purely ours. No body else’s. If someone with the same model of phone as you picked up yours by accident they would quickly see that it wasn’t in fact theirs. That’s the way things are and we appreciate it a lot!

Well, not to blow your mind but there’s something else, a once in a lifetime opportunity to customize something to your self that not a lot of people get the chance to. You get to customize your very own Shakespeare show! You can make it yours and it will never be like any other. 

How is this possible you ask? Well dear reader let me tell you.

When you come be a part of a show performed by The Grassroots Shakespeare Company it will be unique to that audience every single time. It’s not like any other performance because the actors listen to the audience

You see in Shakespeare’s own day they would have large rowdy and most likely drunk audiences. Shakespeare wrote in a way that was planned to be interactive with the audience and his actors performed it that way. 

We in Grassroots Shakespeare, take these shows “back to their roots” by performing them just as Shakespeare’s actors were believed to have performed them in their day. 

Therefore whatever your reaction is when that bad guy comes on stage or those two lovers kiss for the first time, or even when the fool tells a poor joke, will bring out a reaction from those actors that nobodie's seen before! As long as you make yourself heard, your shouts and cat calls will customize that show to you and nobody will ever get that same experience again even if they watched our show’s a hundred times! Crazy! 

That’s what I love about Grassroots Shakespeare’s performances and that’s why I encourage everyone to come see them as often as you can! There is no 4th wall in these show’s, separating the actors from the audience; they’ll go along with you on these epic adventures.

So come and experience it! If you think that customizing your phone is a big deal then just wait for the crazy adventure of customizing your own Shakespeare to fit you right now in 2014. The soon the better! You’ll love it!

About Timothy Peay:

This Is Tim’s first ever performance in a full length Shakespearean show, as well as his first experience with the Grassroots Shakespeare Company. He’s excited and grateful for this fantastic opportunity. Tim is a acting student at Utah Valley University. Former performances include, most recently, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse at UVU, and Dracula: The Musical, in Kamas, UT.

***Video featuring Timothy Peay coming soon. Check our facebook page later this week for the video, then come and see our shows! Details at and our Facebook Event. ***