June 19, 2006
Shakespeare gets a
makeover in the Arb
By Mary Kate Varnau
Daily Arts Writer
Sometimes, even Shakespeare has his
"When we got this
script, I mean, no offense Shakespeare
to Shakespeare, but there in the Arb
were some issues." June 22 to 25,
University alum Beth 6:30 p.m.
Duey talked about the $15
difficulties the RC Play- Students $10
ers had adapting one of At Nichols Arboretum
the bard's earlier plays,
"Love's Labours Lost,"
for this summer's annual "Shakespeare in
the Arb" production.
The play's co-director, Carol Gray, called
"Love's Labours Lost" "archaic, convoluted
(and) hard to understand." The performance
will be the Residential College's sixth annual
"Shakespeare in Arb" presentation, and their
first stab at one of Shakespeare's less-known
comedies. In the past, the RC Players have
spent their summers performing the more
famous "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and
"Much Ado About Nothing."
Taking on the play presented new chal-
lenges for the directors.
The first issue: the language. LSA sopho-
more Will Fink said that "Love's Labours
Lost" is "not timeless in the same way as
'Romeo and Juliet' or 'Othello.' " Director
Kate Mendeloff and her team of co-directors
were faced with the daunting task of edit-
ing and reworking parts of the still-relevant
comedy to make the high wordplay, archaic
puns and centuries-outdated jokes under-
standable to a modern audience.
When the script was done, the directors
tackled a second problem: How to adapt
the play, set entirely indoors, for a theater
without walls or a stage. The RC Players
have a unique philosophy regarding the
audience's involvement, an inclusion of the
audience into the world of the performance
- one that accomodates suspension of dis-
belief without set partitions, decorations or
props (although the costumes, hand made by
designer Roberta VanderMey, are worth the
trip to the Arb alone).
"There's no backstage, so when the audi-
ence comes, they're walking into our world.
There's never really a time for us to be out of
character," said LSA senior Mariana Andeile
de Sylor, who called "Love's Labours Lost" a
"The actors are involved in a way that
they're not when they're indoors. I think
that it makes a huge difference, and that it's
a challenge for the actors and for the audi-
ence," said co-director Carol Gray who also
said that the hilly, set-less space is a formi-
dable and fun task for the actors to master.
But she said that the truly special thing about
this production is the challenge that it will
pose to the audience as well.
"There is sort of a fascination with doing
Shakespeare outside," she said. "That in
itself isn't unique, but that the audience
moves with the actors, that is the one thing
that sets us apart."
The RC Players have kept their audience
on the edge of its seat and has been making it
get off of them since their first performance
six years ago. Gray insisted that it's this
unique feature about the "Shakespeare in the
Arb" experience that makes it stand out.
"I think what the Arb shows do is take
Shakespeare and make it into something
that's accessible (to) everyone. There's some-
thing for adults, there's something for kids,
LSA senior Chris Harrison performs as Costard in "Love's Labours Lost."
there's something for Shakespeare enthusi- Beth Duey thinks that their audience, com-
asts and there's something for people who prised mostly of University students, will
just want to be outside." relate well to "Love's Labours Lost:"
Shakespeare in the Arb has quickly "This play particularly is interesting for a
become one of Ann Arbor's most valued college audience, because a lot of it is about
artistic traditions. The RC Players believe intellectual snobbery. The idea that a person
the University is the perfect place to put on doesn't have to forego love or emotion for
this sort of interactive, imaginative, intellec- academics: Love doesn't necessarily make
tual project. you stupid. Necessarily."
Located: Exit 22 off US 23, 4 miles south of Milan, 5 miles north of Dundee (Cabella's) 15 miles south of Ann Arbor