Shakespeare meets Suess
Staff Reports | Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Shakespeare’s original script for his play about two star-cross’d lovers besieged by tragedy likely did not include costuming notes about crazy socks.
Kathleen Bryant’s seventh grade theater production class performed “The Suessification of Romeo and Juliet,” last week, much of the cast besocked in technicolor.
“I got the idea to do the play after reading it then seeing it performed at this year’s Georgia One Act Competition,” Bryant says, “ I wasn’t sure how it would flesh out on stage until I saw it. I decided we had to do it then.”
The play, written by Peter Blodel in 2004, takes great liberties with Shakespeare’s tragedy, imbuing the script with silliness inspired by another master of language – Dr. Suess. Instead of the characters speaking in iambic pentameter, the dialogue is entirely whimsical rhyming.
In this “fast forward” version of the play, the actors donned Converse shoes with traditional Shakespearean garb. Instead of poison there are “death faking nuts” and “death crackers”. Instead of Romeo and Juliet dying at the end, Juliet wakes up and Romeo does a Justin Beiber dance number.
Susanna Peppers, seventh grade, says of her character, the nurse, “she’s really funny. She’s always looking for somebody.” Peppers prepared for her comedic role with some advice from Bryant.
“I read my lines out loud and tried to give it some ‘cheese wagging,’” she exclaimed. This is the term Bryant uses to get the students to read their lines with more feeling and passion.
The young cast often had to stifle giggles onstage during the play’s traditionally serious scenes.
“My favorite part is when I die because I have to stop myself from laughing so I can look dead,” said Summer Stevens, who performed as Juliet in the Tuesday night production of the play. Stevens is a veteran of production class and the international troop.
Emma Adams, who plays Nun Mary, said her favorite scene is the sword fight between Tybalt and Mercutio. The harrowing scene becomes a “bumbaloon battle” – but ends as Shakespeare wrote it.
Well, not exactly. The Prince, portrayed by David Key, inquires, “What happened here? I’d like to explore the reason there’s two dead guys here on the floor.”
Adams’ incarnation of Nun Mary has a Yankee accent. Adams said she had to practice a lot. “She’s not a typical nun. She’s a fireball. She slaps Romeo for asking 'will you marry me' but he wasn't talking about marrying her."
The students performing in this play have been working with Bryant all year in her production class. “They audition to be in this class. It’s different from the general drama class because these students perform the plays they rehearse throughout the year,” Bryant said.
So everyone could participate, “Suessification” had two performances by two different casts.
Bryant also mentioned that the students are involved with the drama camp at the Madison Community Theater, affectionately called “McTheater.” Camp, this year, is set to begin July 18th . Registration is open at www.mctheater.org. In addition, students are also given the opportunity to be involved with an international drama troop by earning experience and points.
Printed in the April 28, 2011 edition