What Is It?
To explore Shakespeare’s text in a rehearsal context without the distraction and financial burden of producing a full production, and help actors sharpen their skills for working with the language. The ultimate goal of the multi-year project is to work through the entire canon of Shakespeare’s plays – all 37 of them! – with a revolving company of actors, and explore ways to address the challenges of presenting his works to a modern audience.
The exploration of each play is an 8-10 week process, depending on the length of the play. The Lab company meets once a week for 3 hours. Each Lab “production” culminates in a final reading of the complete play for a public audience. General conditions of the Lab include:
- No sets, props, or costumes
- Limited staging – movement is incorporated only where it serves to illuminate the language
- No memorization
- Flexible casting – no roles are cast in advance, company members an opportunity to read more than one role during the Lab process
- Additional Learning Experiences – student design samples, music composed for the play, a combat sequence – are possible for incorporation into the final presentation, but the work must happen outside of regular Lab sessions, planned in collaboration with the Director of the production
- The Lab is, above all, a passion project for people who love Shakespeare. All Lab company members volunteer their time and talents. Everyone is asked to “check their ego at the door” – this is not about getting paid or being cast in a juicy role – “the play’s the thing!”
Play Selection & Directors:
As the first lab production – As You Like it – is being produced in collaboration with Drake Theatre People, the students selected the play, and the Lab will be directed by Brian Lynner. For future Labs, potential directors will be allowed to submit a project. All potential directors must participate in at least one full lab as an actor before submitting a proposal to direct,
The preference is that all acting company members who will perform in the final reading are asked to commit to the entire Lab process. Absolutely no roles are pre-cast, and no single actor will read all the same role(s) at sessions until the final two weeks. An open audition for each Lab company will be scheduled. Theatre professionals from the community may also be invited to participate, under the condition that they abide by the rule that no roles are pre-cast. Guests who wish to observe a session prior to the final presentation will also be welcome on a limited basis.
Each Lab production culminates in a reading of the play, which is free and open to the general public. The Director will present his concept and the challenge issues the Lab tried to address. If there are student designers, they will present their designs. The company will read through the entire play (with whatever cuts have been made) with minimal staging. If original music has been written, it will be incorporated into the performance. Post-performance discussion afterwards, time permitting. Free will donations will be accepted – to go towards the cost of scripts and marketing for the next Lab.