by Kirby Lindsay
Over four weekends – June 19 to July 11 – the Fremont Troll will serve as backdrop, prop and balcony for the immortal works of William Shakespeare. The sixth season of ‘Shakespeare on the Troll,’ as produced by Work It Productions, will unite classical theater with popular public art to create a spectacle worthy of Fremont.
Bring In The Bard
Under one name or another, the same basic group of folks have offered this opportunity since 2004, explained Jen Anderson, Managing Director, which has operated as Work It since 2007. With the (possibly unwilling) cooperation of Fremont’s favorite concrete curmudgeon, they’ve performed Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet, As You Like It and Taming of the Shrew (staged by Balagan Theatre.)
The original idea for performing under Aurora came from Carolynne Wilcox (now with Stone Soup Theatre) and the staging of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. As Anderson explained, this work “lends itself most to the Troll, with its fairies and the supernatural.”
For 2010, they’ve prepared a ‘bite-sized’ Shakespeare, a greatest hits, that includes the balcony scene (Romeo & Juliet), fisticuffs (Taming of the Shrew), and an elaborate death scene (Titus Andronicus) plus sonnets, as palate cleansers, between scenes.
“Shakespeare on its own is a little difficult,” Anderson, who has worked as a director, actress and playwright, explained. For these performances, “people tend to check-in for 10 – 20 minutes,” she admitted, “but there are die-hards who stay the whole show.” Surprisingly, “most who stay are the kids,” she revealed.
Whatever The Cost
“We have done it enough years that locals know about it,” Anderson admitted, and “they tend to be our best referees.” The cast and crew – Director L. Nicol Cabe and cast members Emma Thompson, Geb Brown, Jeannine Clark and Jillian Harrington – will face some unusual challenges as they perform at the Troll. “It’s a public space,” she acknowledged, and a popular tourist attraction. “We have to take breaks for photos, and kids,” she explained, and “with swords, we have to be careful.”
“The actors get dirty,” Anderson agreed, “it’s a dirty space,” with weather, pollen and road dust a constant part of their action. They have considered amplified sound, but “out of respect for the neighbors” they’ve shied away from it, Anderson admitted. They’ve also avoided street closures, professional lighting and sound, and achieved something “as organic as possible.”
The show also helps the area, and the Troll. “We like to leave him cleaner than we found him,” Anderson insisted, “for our audience, visitors and our own safety.” Merely by being there, they also help deter a chronic drug/transient problem behind the statue.
Whatever The Rewards
With every show open-to-the-public, ‘tickets’ are pay-as-you-like - with donation boxes set out during performances and a ‘pass the hat’ at the end. “People are amazingly generous,” Anderson admitted, especially as they’ve had up to 100 people come see them. The theater troupe does struggle to produce the show because “there is no way to plan revenue.”
In addition to ‘Shakespeare On The Troll’, Work It Productions produces new play readings and works – and rents theater space for their productions. “We can be a lot more flexible,” Anderson explained, about being rootless. “A theater experience happens long before you step inside the theater,” she explained, and they can find a space to suit each works they produce.
As they’ve done by producing the works of Shakespeare, at the Troll. Performances will take place at Noon and 2p on Saturdays, and Noon on Sunday. Audiences will be able to enjoy the most traditional of theater, in the most unconventional of spaces, although, as Anderson noted, “it may not work, but that is art.”
- A Wealth of Original Plays, and Playwrights, at Stone Soup
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 10, 2010
- A ‘Bounty’of Theater & Food
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 14, 2010
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.