Get thee to a nunnery, or at least get thee to "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged," the third production in the Fort Hays State University Fringe Theatre's season.
The cast and crew of the show will take the audience on a high-energy, whirlwind tour of the Bard's 37 plays, which have been condensed to a performance shorter than two hours.
"We don't have to do it justice," Jarrett Henson, Ulysses freshman, quips during the show. "We just have to do it."
But Henson and his partners, Joseph Galante, Mesa, AZ, senior, and Mario Lozoya, Pratt junior, do in fact do the production justice. Shakespeare, no stranger to irreverence himself, would be impressed with the trio's cheeky interpretation of his works. In order to bring the Bard to the masses, the three actors present his works in such forms as a cooking show, a football game and a rap song.
Despite the cast's talent, the show would fall flat were it not for the dedication of the backstage crew, who keep costumes, swords and fake body parts easily accessible to the actors, light the stage and run the soundboard.
"This show is 90 percent the crew. It's very props driven. The crew is awesome and helps us perform a good show for everyone," said Lozoya.
"The crew has just as hard a job, or harder, than the actors in this performance," said Galante. "You have to consider that we have a costume for every major character in all 37 plays. I don't know what the math works out to exactly, but that's a lot that the crew has to keep track of and help us make sure we get right."
The crew is so integral to the show that several become part of the cast. John Simmonds, McDonald sophomore, and Krystle Krug, Russell junior, entertain the audience during intermission, and Chris Wilhelm, a performance technician at FHSU and the show's assistant technical director and lighting designer, gives the actors guff from his perch above the audience.
Also contributing to the success of the show will be the audience. The actors aren't above heckling audience members that they feel aren't participating enough. And on several occasions, audience members will be called upon to become part of the cast of the show.
"The audience will actually be used to play certain roles in the play. There are no plants," said Bruce Bardwell, instructor of communication studies and the show's director, technical director and stage designer.
"Be prepared to participate or maybe even join us on stage," Galante said.
It is not "to go or not to go" that's the question, it's when to go. The production will run March 9-12 in Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall on the FHSU campus. Shows begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are $8 for FHSU students and $10 for non-students.
For more information or to purchase advance tickets, contact Tara Neitzel, ticket booth manager, at (785) 628-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.