Shakespeare’s legacy has endured for more than 400 years and there’s no expiration date in sight. A new generation is embracing his works and putting their own spin on them. The Southern Shakespeare Company’s junior troupe, the Bardlings, is currently rehearsing “Eighth Night,” a condensed version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and they haven’t lost any of the comedy’s wit or whimsy.
The Bardlings company is comprised of local middle and high school actors. The group is codirected by Robin Jackson and Bianca Montague who offer dramatic training as well as performance opportunities. Additionally, the Bardlings attend community theater productions and participate in specialized workshops.
The Bardlings will perform “Eighth Night” during the Southern Shakespeare Festival at Cascades Park this weekend.
Montague shared that the students are also included in set building and stage management. “As much as we can, we involve them in every aspect so they understand everything that goes into the show, not just the performance part but all of it.”
“Very rarely will we do straight Shakespeare. We’ll change the setting or the time period but this year we wanted them to have a chance to do Shakespeare with a setting and costuming that’s true to the time period. We decided instead of changing its theme, we’d shorten the play so they would take more time to learn the dialogue. The shortened version has helped them grasp the language and what the story is about.”
Even in its adapted form, the play contains everything you’d expect from 'The Bard': a shipwreck, disguises, trickery, musical fools, unrequited love, mistaken identity and, of course, clever word play. That’s where the Bardlings are concentrating much of their attention.
“They’ll read something and think it means one thing and you change the meaning of one word and it changes the meaning of the whole sentence,” said Montague. “They’re like ‘wow, I didn’t realize that’s what I was supposed to be saying his whole time.’ You can always tell when it clicks. They’re delivering the line and they’ve got the right inflection and the right attitude and you can tell they understand what they’re saying. They get it.”
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