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Northeastern Theatre Department Tackles Every Single Shakespeare Play (Really!)

Do you like Shakespeare, but just find his plays too darn long? Not to mention all those endless speeches with incomprehensible words. Well, we have a show for you: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)!  

A company of four courageous (or crazy?) actors will perform all 37 plays in about 90 minutes. London’s second-longest-running comedy is an irreverent, fast-paced, Bardacious ride that will leave you breathless with iambic laughter. Featuring outrageous improvisation, audience participation, and Hamlet in 43 seconds, the production runs from March 20-24 in the Ryder Theatre Lab, and is directed by Darren Evans, Theatre Operations Specialist at Northeastern.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was born as a three-man “pass the hat” act at Renaissance faires before being re-written and expanded into a full-length phenomenon at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. From there it landed at the Criterion Theatre, running for 10 years and becoming a London institution. The Times of London praised the show as a “stupendous, anchorless joy” and The New York Times called it “intellectual vaudeville.” The Complete Works has toured extensively across the globe, is one of the world’s most frequently produced plays, and has been translated into several dozen languages.

According to Evans, “Shakespeare’s plays and language are major cultural touchstones in the Western world and are treated with reverence and showered in scholarship. But the original stagings were raw and raucous affairs, with the audience shouting at the stage (and throwing the occasional vegetable) in an open-air venue, with more of an “anything can happen” feeling. This production captures that wild energy and dials it to eleven. I’d like to think that Bill Shakespeare would approve, even though we’ve chopped out a few (million) words.”

The production features a cast of four students: Aidan Bradley as Aidan, Kaitlyn Fiery as Kaitlyn, Isabelle Hahn as Isabelle and Ciara McAloon as Ciara.

Evans continues, “One of the many joys of this play is that it is intended to be updated with current cultural references and dialogue that is specific to the place and time of performance. Our four amazing actors have been deeply involved in that re-writing, adding references to faculty, student groups, catchphrases, current politics and more, creating a fresh production that is entirely unique to Northeastern in this moment.”

Darren Evans is a multi-dimensional, award-winning director and designer who has been a member of the Boston theatre community for over 15 years. He is the Producing Artistic Director of Theatre on Fire, a fringe company he founded 14 years ago, where he produces edgy, contemporary plays that promise to be neither cute nor boring. He is known for his intimate, up-close stagings. Prior to coming to Northeastern, Evans was the Director of Programs at the Boston Center for the Arts where he created and managed programs in theatre, dance and visual art, as well as multiple performance and rehearsal spaces in the multidisciplinary two-acre arts complex. He oversaw the Resident Theatre Company Program and was the primary liaison between the BCA and emerging and established theatre companies, including the Tony Award-winning Huntington Theatre Company.

The Complete Works features an entirely student design team: Tiffany Yu ‘19 (Costumes), Doga Tasdemir ‘22 (Lighting), Nat Talbot ‘21 (Sound) and Maren Flessen ‘20 (Props Master).

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