Director's Notes: Complete Works of William Shakespeare

BY HOLLIE PRYOR

all photos by Molly Haley

Last Spring, after my first production with The Theater Project, Wendy Poole reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in helping out with a fundraiser with the Portland Seadogs.  The project was putting up a condensed, family friendly version of this script outside the stadium back in April. It was a big hit. With this production, we have changed up our cast a bit, we have added back in all the blood and swear words and are performing it indoors of course, using every corner of the theater except the rafters.

Shakespeare’s works have fascinated me ever since I was in high school.  His characters and plots are so poetic and rich in imagery and imagination, and his works still inspire and fascinate me to this day.  When I talk about Shakespeare, a lot of people I know say to me that his works are “really complicated,” and that they don’t feel “smart” enough to understand them.  My first reply to them is always that that couldn’t be any farther from his original intentions!

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When carefully studying his plays, you may sometimes notice that characters will repeat the same thought a few times in a row, only using different wording.  This is 100% intentional on Shakespeare’s part!  During his time, Shakespeare’s audiences would be standing room only, eating, drinking, swearing and laughing as loud as they would like.  They would interact with the performers before them, and the performers wouldn’t hold back on the raunchy humor that is, to some degree, in every single one of his plays.  

If you found yourself in Portland this summer, I was part of Fenix Theatre Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where I played Snout/The Wall.  A Shakespeare play was always an event for the community to come together, laugh together, make fun of performers, make fun of each other and have a good time.

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This show has a wonderful way of reaching those who love Shakespeare and are familiar with his plays, as well as those who only saw one play once, or read a play or two in school and are interested in more.  The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is such a great script in that it invites the director and performers to update references that might no longer work in present-day pop culture.  As the play was originally written and produced in the 1980s and had a slight revision in 2007.  Megan, Jess, Kyle and I have one hundred percent taken that direction and are running with it!  

There is going to be something new and a little bit different about this show every night.  It’s also  wonderful to work in a space that lends itself to actors popping up and working through random places in and throughout the audience.  This is going to be a fairly interactive experience for audience members.  I believe that is at the heart of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged); to perform these works in the original spirit they were first performed with.


Hollie Pryor’s first experience at The Theater Project was in last Spring’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher, directed by Al Miller.  She was the puppeteer for the show, playing Shanks the cat, the yellow bird, as well as Captain Scott and a few sailors.  She is ecstatic and honored to be directing at TTP this fall.  Hollie is a recent graduate of The University of Southern Maine, where she received a BA in Theater with an emphasis on Directing.  She is a teaching artist with STAGES Youth Theater in Portland and also is the Managing Director of the new Polyphonic Theater Ensemble, helping to make voices heard in the Portland area.