On Thursday, April 29th at San Diego State University, the Theater Film and Media department put on a very interesting show. They did important scenes from many Shakespeare plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, and Othello.
I’m sure sometime in your life (if you haven’t already) you will see a Shakespeare play or a movie adapted from his plays; Romeo and Juliet in particular. So sometimes it is fun to see how different actors or directors takes on certain scenes, and how they act as a specific character.
To start out, what is experimental theatre? Traditionally it is known as avant-garde theatre, but the meaning has begun to change over time. The best way to put it is seeing a classic play like A Raisin in the Sun and then going to see Cirque du Soleil. Traditional vs. Experimental.
The short scenes put on at SDSU’s experimental theatre were not as crazy as Cirque du Soleil, but they were interesting and good nonetheless.
One scene in particular that sticks out in my mind is one portrayal of Caliban in The Tempest. This monologue scene takes place when Caliban is talking to Prospero, and cursing him for tricking him, killing his mother and enslaving him. The actor crawled around on the ground as he growled and yelled his lines. It was captivating and you felt the passion of Caliban coming out of the actor’s mouth.
The best part of the night was the Romeo and Juliet fight scene. They acted out this scene twice, one with the men being portrayed by women, and one time with the men being portrayed by men. It was interesting to see how the men and women acted out the scene differently.
The women had a more snarky connotation in their voice while they argued, and their fighting was short but fast paced. Their sword work was quick and they acted with more sadness and betrayal than anger. The men on the other hand acted with more anger and brute force. The fighting and sword play were much longer and they used the entire stage area. The arguments had that salty masculine humor.
Watching the women’s take on the scene in contrast to the men’s take on the scene was fascinating. It makes one wonder how two groups of people can see the scene so differently.
The scenes acted out were great, and very humorous. It is hard, when just reading a Shakespeare play, to see the humor. But as they acted the scenes out on the experimental theatre stage, the humor became more apparent. For example, when one character is off stage but eavesdropping, he/she isn’t just standing there listening. Instead he/she is crawling on the ground and hiding behind props in a stealthy spy style.
Overall it was interesting. Next time you are near San Diego State University, check out the experimental theatre plays. It will be humorous, captivating, and something you won’t soon forget.