We mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death this year by celebrating the playwright who has given us so many poetic phrases, now used in everyday speech. Last Saturday a troupe of young actors aged 10 to 17 from Driftwood Theatre School ripped into a Shakespeare mashup titled All the World’s a Stage, arranged by Mary W. Schaller into a collection of excerpts from many of his plays.
They did a terrific job, playing up both the humour and the drama inherent in much of Shakespeare’s work. Puck (Finn Addy) and Bottom (James Stinson) cavorted in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the porter in Macbeth (Jadan Rostau) gave his comedy routine – the original knock knock, who’s there joke – to make the theatre patrons of Shakespeare’s day laugh. Antony (Gabriel Ryan) delivered his moving speech, while Julius Caesar (Bela Ord) lay dying on stage. Gravity Guignard gave Shakespeare’s advice to the players in her role as Hamlet. Elizabeth Hood, sidelined by an injury just before the show, was able to perform many of her lines, though on crutches. The show must go on.
Director Ingrid Bilton explained that learning lines from Shakespeare was like learning a new language and the students had to make an earnest commitment to it. Each actor had four roles, another difficult co-ordination task requiring quick costume changes and accurate timing. The Tuscan backdrop was suitably elegant, built by Doug Ives’ team and painted by Mudito and Bodhi Drope.
The two performances at the Heritage Playhouse will not be the end of this show. The actors have already performed a trial run at Gibsons Elementary School to a critical audience of their peers. They now go on the road, performing for free at schools on the Sunshine Coast, with financial support from the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation and the Regional District.
As the bard himself wrote in Hamlet: “The play’s the thing.”