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JUNEAU - When the man playing Juliet runs off the stage and appears to throw up on audience members' laps, you might suspect this isn't a typical Theatre in the Rough Shakespearean production.
Shakespeare at breakneck speed: 'Complete Works' returns to Theatre in the Rough this weekend 093009 NEWS 2 CCW Editor JUNEAU - When the man playing Juliet runs off the stage and appears to throw up on audience members' laps, you might suspect this isn't a typical Theatre in the Rough Shakespearean production.

Photo Courtesy Of Aaron Elmore

Clockwise from top left, Aaron Elmore, Doniece Gott and Ed Christian return with "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" at Theatre in the Rough.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Story last updated at 9/30/2009 - 5:34 pm

Shakespeare at breakneck speed: 'Complete Works' returns to Theatre in the Rough this weekend

JUNEAU - When the man playing Juliet runs off the stage and appears to throw up on audience members' laps, you might suspect this isn't a typical Theatre in the Rough Shakespearean production.

Back by popular demand, "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" by Jess Bjorgerson, Danile Singer and Adam Long will be the first play of the Theatre in the Rough's new season.

Of Theatre in the Rough's 27 productions to date, 13 have been Shakespearean plays. And in "Complete Works," three Shakespeare buffs named Aaron, Eddy and Donny (played by Aaron Elmore, Ed Christian and Doniece Gott) attempt to produce every Shakespearean play in the course of the two-hour production.

More than poking fun at the Bard himself, "It pokes fun at the way he's worshipped and idolized by people like us," Elmore said.

The abridged versions of the plays take forms ranging from a cooking show to a football game. "Macbeth" comes with over-the-top Scottish accents, and "Othello" is set to rock music. The comedies are reduced to a single puppet show with countless sets of twins. And, saving the best for last, there's "Hamlet" - well, can these actors even make it through "Hamlet"?

Throughout the performance, the audience should believe, Christian said, that "The three of us don't really know what the other is going to do."

And with this "willing suspension of disbelief," all kinds of things are possible. The audience gets involved in several points, and not just as somewhere for Elmore's female characters to throw up. The play is written to allow for local and pop culture references and improvisation which can make each performance a little different.

"There are always minor variations," Elmore said. "It's always going to change and develop."

The three-person cast is made up of the same three Roughians who appeared in the 2003 performance. The theater company doesn't often repeat plays, but they couldn't resist the opportunity to remount "Complete Works"

"We really wanted to do it again," Elmore said.

Katie Jensen directed the performance in 2003; this year, since she's currently playing the role Mrs. Antrobus in "The Skin of Our Teeth" at Perseverance Theatre, Elmore will be directing the production.

Having done the show once before, the cast is now able to build on their previous experience. Still, they say it's an exhausting performance, and rehearsals often involved dripping with sweat and gasping for breath.

They did know going in that the last minutes of the play were the toughest, as the cast does Hamlet faster and faster and faster - and backwards.

"We knew that the last 45 seconds were terrifying the first time we did it," Elmore said. So while last time they rehearsed the scences in order, this time, they started with the end.

You don't need to know anything about Shakespeare to appreciate the show, Christian said.

"These plays are in our cultural DNA," Christian said. "So much of what (Shakespeare) invented became the English language. Even someone who is not a theater-goer is going to find so much resonance in them."

Added Elmore: "Some of our best audience members last time were our six-year-olds and eight-year-olds."

Complete Works will play at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays, from Oct. 2 through Nov. 4. There will be a free preview at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, and a pay-as-you-will performance on Thursday, Oct. 8.

Tickets are available at Hearthside and at the door. Friday and Saturday tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door ($5 for kids 5 and under, $15 for students and seniors). Thursday and Sunday tickets are $15 general admission ($5 kids 5 and under, $10 students and seniors).

As a thank-you for those who come to one of the first two weekends and who want to see the show again, if you present your ticket stub when buying your ticket the next time around, you'll get it for just $10. Tickets are redeemable at the box office only and are space available. Discount tickets will be released 15 minutes before showtime.


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