Fall play presents comedic crash course in Shakespeare


Sarah McDermott

Seniors Kiana Resch and James McManus prepare for the October 25 debut of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”

It is usually very rare to find “Shakespeare” and “football game” used in the same context, but not at this year’s fall play.

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” is a comical rendition of all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays and stories, condensed into a 97 minute show. Students will perform it from October 25 through October 28.

While students may associate Shakespeare’s works with the English classroom, theater director Mrs. Kate Costello wants people to not let that connotation stop them from watching the show.
“It introduces the students to a fair amount of Shakespeare, but in a wacky and whimsical way,” said Mrs. Costello.

For some students, this play changed their perspective on Shakespeare.

“Shakespeare is a lot weirder than it initially seems because it is presented in a way that is weird,” said sophomore cast member Giancarlo Pieri.

Mrs. Costello said she was inspired to use this play after she saw it on Broadway.

“It’s very funny,” she said. “It suits the talents of our students, who are very clever and can do physical comedy, as well as different voices.”

While the show is a modern interpretation, it does not stray completely from Shakespeare’s sixteenth century works.

“The beauty of the show is that some parts of the script are totally from Shakespeare’s play, but only key parts,” said Mrs. Costello. “There is much comic commentary in between.”

While all Shakespeare plays are included in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” some stories are only covered briefly. Highlights from the play that are certainly not in William Shakespeare’s pieces include a football game telling history plays such as “King John,” and a character complaining about how difficult “Hamlet” is to perform.

In addition, certain parts of the show are improvised, including some audience participation and references that need to be relevant, even in October.

“That’s always a little risky!” said Mrs. Costello.

The cast needs to be prepared, but still seem genuine on stage.

“It is interesting to see how the actors make it look like it’s improvised when it’s not,” said freshman cast member Erin Cavender.

Aside from updating the show and adding improvisation, Mrs. Costello had to modify the play in another way.

Students interested in the fall play far outnumbered the three original cast members of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” so Mrs. Costello needed to adapt the play to fit 21 students in each cast.

“The big challenge to dividing the parts was to keep the personalities of the major players clear throughout the play,” she said.

This is not the first year Mrs. Costello has adapted classic works to involve more students. She has been in charge of productions at Saint Viator for 20 years. In the past several years, she has also done this with “She Stoops to Conquer,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

“My goals are to make classic plays more available to students,” Mrs. Costello said. “The challenge is the time it takes out of my summer to do it.”

Students and cast members appreciate the hard work and determination Mrs. Costello and many others, including assistant director Mr. Tony Calzaretta, put into the shows.

“I like the relationship with the directors,” said senior Emma Abrahamian.

All in all, the directors, cast members, and all the other people involved in the fall play work hard to put on a good show for many to enjoy.

As Mrs. Costello said, “People who love Shakespeare will love it, and people who hate Shakespeare will love it.”