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Shaking Up Shakespeare

The Sterling Playmakers seemed to take William Shakespeare quite literally when he wrote "All the world's a stage." So literally that they’ve completely disregarded the need for a true stage for its summer Shakespeare performances and opted to do the shows outside in a park. Shakespeare in the Park is the Sterling Playmakers' collection of Shakespearean scenes put on by several different directors at the gazebo at the Sterling Community Center under the open sky, June 6 and 7, at 8 p.m. and June 8, at 2 p.m.

"We want to show that community theater can do good Shakespeare and we want the audience to be entertained and find a new respect for Shakespeare. We hope people will realize that Shakespeare is fun and friendly," Kevin C. Robertson, artistic director for the Sterling Playmaker’s production of Shakespeare in the Park, said.

THE PERFORMERS have been rehearsing their plays for the past few weeks to get ready for the shows. Most of the actors are local performers who want more experience in Shakespeare or want to refine their skills. They’ll be given that chance because the directors have each taken their own slant on the short scenes from multiple plays, most of which are from comedies, Robertson said.

"One of our directors has chosen to set the scene from 'Titus Andronicus' in a sort of war-like setting with the actors in military uniforms. One of our scenes has the death of Caesar happening with our young actors killing Caesar with pink balloons," said Robertson of the many variances on the plays.

It isn’t just Shakespeare this year either. The Playmakers have decided to take on some of the playwright’s contemporaries by putting on scenes by Marlowe and Johnson. The Playmaker’s have even come up with an introductory scene with the three playwrights talking at a pub about their work.

Despite some of the more sordid subjects these three men take on in their work, Robertson said, the event is very family-orientated pointing to the fact that the actors themselves range in age from 6 to 60. People are encouraged to bring a blanket and some food to have a picnic while watching the performances, which will last around two hours and 15 minutes.

"It is very family friendly," Robertson said. "We have some strong material, but it will mostly go over younger children’s heads and we have some very young actors so we have scenes that are very funny and appropriate for kids."

RICHARDSON SAID that performing outside isn’t that much trickier than inside except for the noise level and the fact that the actors must project more. In fact the outdoor performance is much more akin to what it would have been like to see a Shakespearean play in his own time. The actors will even be costuming themselves in the same way.

"What we’re doing is very traditionally," Robertson said. "We essentially have a standard uniform, which is black pants and a T-shirt and then you simply throw the appropriate costume over it and go on from there, which is how they would do it in Shakespeare’s time."

The Sterling Community Center is located at 120 Enterprise St., Sterling. For information call 703-430-9480.

<1b>— Matthew Razak