Shakespeare's theatre was a madhouse. Let's do that.
It's ready: a complete guide for making Shakespeare right: in bars, with no director, and only one rehearsal.
Why do this?
Because most conventional Shakespeare is bad. And it doesn't have to be. It’s a square peg/round hole problem: to put one of Shakespeare’s plays in a modern theatre, you have to round off the corners. The bits we cut off are not incidental. They mattered to Shakespeare. They matter to me.
The theatre Shakespeare wrote for was a madhouse: the actors barely rehearsed, and had no director. They maybe never read the whole play. The audience was sweaty, drinking, loud; the event, public, social, unpredictable. The line between audience and stage was hazy at best.
You can build that madhouse. You can have the Shakespeare that Shakespeare intended. You'll need a hammer - not only to build, but also to tear down the modern crap in your way.
I've written that hammer.
It is based on the work of the Back Room Shakespeare Project, which began in Chicago in 2011. We reach past the words Shakespeare wrote to the purpose he wrote them for. We use the old blueprints, serve the old priorities — because the words are not the plays; the plays happened in the playhouse. That’s what matters. Get past the words that were written to the play that was intended. It is a sequel to the underground classic: My Life With the Shakespeare Cult.
This work is part of a movement. It's happening in Chicago, New York, LA, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, New Jersey, Albuquerque, Utah, and more. The movement deserves a fair shake - it deserves a treatment that will represent it with clarity, accuracy, and love.
The book is in two volumes.
Volume 1, Part One: Elements of the Style is advice from the players. Their hard-won knowledge will be useful to you whether you work in a Playhouse style, or in any other: how to prepare, how to approach the text, how to rehearse, and how to stand naked in front of an audience with Shakespeare’s words in one hand, nothing in the other, lighting yourself on fire.
Volume 1, Part Two: Loveletters is a series of loveletters from the trenches: interviews with the actors who have kept the fires bright for eight years. They are loose and rangy, giving different portraits of different people who care about the same things in different ways. They contradict one another, like people do.
Volume 2: Field Guide is a field guide for building your own Shakespeare cult. It will help you structure and run an Oldschool process that will work for Shakespeare. It’s adapted from the field guide the Project hands to all of our Captains. I hope the field guide is complete enough to be useful, and also incomplete enough to be useful: because a good tool can be used for many things.
It's written in two volumes so that the field guide can fit in your pocket - and so that you won't look like a nerd holding it at your one rehearsal. You'll look like a freaking anarchist, with a slim little volume of weaponizable propaganda.
Pick up the hammer. You'll be downright amazed at what you can destroy with it.
The book will print by July 1st, 2019.
Risks and challenges
Shakespeare in bars is sweeping the country. Not all of it is serious. We have a very limited window of opportunity in which professionals and Shakespeare lovers are going to decide what they think of it: whether it's a gimmick or here to stay. It is absolutely crucial that this book be printed now. This is why I am not waiting for an editor and a traditional publishing process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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