Stage Right Review: To Be Or Not To Be, Times Three!
How easy would you say it is to turn a complete two-hour tragedy into five minutes of roaring comedy, yet still stay true to the story? Pretty difficult, I’d say. Well, Jennifer Holland of ELH1 did an outstanding job directing Stage Right in such a presentation with “The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged).” In this two-hour play written by participants of the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore, three gifted LeTourneau students ran, fought, orated, and splashed their way through the thirty-nine plays of the William Shakespeare canon. Among the acts were a football rendition of the monarchial histories, a cooking show version of Titus Andronicus, an eight-minute conglomeration of every one of Shakespeare’s comedies, and triple reruns of Hamlet. Every line sent the audience members into fits of laughter, whether they caught the clever literary references or were simply impressed by the actors’ antics.
After laughing my way through the matinée showing of The Compleat Works, I got a chance not only to have my flyer autographed by the three actors—Matt Barr of 3B, Luis Vazquez of 41, and Jordan Johnson of 4B—but also to have a short personal interview with Jennifer Holland herself.
YJ: So how on earth did you come up with The Compleat Works?
JH: Actually, it wasn’t original—it was a written script from someone else. We liked it because it was funny yet clean, and didn’t require many actors. So it fit really well with our constraints.
YJ: Is the number of actors you had this year typical?
JH: It varies from semester to semester, but this has definitely been one of the smallest casts so far.
YJ: Why did you choose The Compleat Works? Was it pre-planned or did it just seem right?
JH: It was one of several plays. We’d also looked at plays such as an adaptation of The 39 Steps, but for the reasons I referenced we decided to go with the Shakespeare rendition.
YJ: And it was a great decision. So do you have a preference for what type of plays you usually do, or do you tend to vary it from semester to semester?
JH: Definitely comedy. I’ll occasionally consider tragedies but I prefer to bring laughter and joy. So comedy is what I usually spring for.
YJ: Would you mind telling me a little bit about your dramatic background? Was this a first-time experience or have you been connected to acting for a long time?
JH: I’ve been involved in theatre since about four years old, so it certainly wasn’t a first-time thing when I got here. In fact, I’m sort of majoring in performing arts.
YJ: Thanks for spending the time to answer my questions, Jenn! Before we go, I’d like to know if you have a vision for Stage Right, especially if it goes on after you’ve graduated.
JH: I guess I’d like to see it grow in size. One of the things that’s so great about it right now is that it’s just a club of people who enjoy acting, but it would be nice to see more people involved in it.
Jennifer Holland currently has senior status and is looking to graduate at the end of the spring semester. She is devoted to art and drama, and is thankful for the chance to provide a few hours of entertainment to the community of LeTourneau University.
As of right now, Stage Right has no concrete plans for the spring semester’s play. Expectations are high, though, so make sure to come and applaud the artists next time they grace the Belcher Center’s stage!
Written by T. C. Buscher. Photo credit: Alex Hardinge.