Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Theater / February 21, 2008

Prairie Players parody the Bard

The Prairie Players have just concluded their well-received run of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” a comedy parodying Shakespeare’s plays usually performed by three actors. The Prairie Players chose to expand the cast to seven, including freshman Keegan Siebken.

The play is a hilarious romp through significantly shortened and even more significantly altered versions of Shakespeare’s plays in which the actors speak directly to the audience and sometimes require their participation.

Among other Shakespeare works, Titus Andronicus is portrayed as a cooking show, Othello is reduced to a rap, and all of Shakespeare’s historical plays are converted into one crazy, convoluted football game. The play itself is wonderfully choreographed mayhem, but that’s just the beginning. The second act is devoted entirely to a reinterpretation of Hamlet.

Unfortunately, I was only able to catch this last half of this side-splitting performance, and I’m making great efforts to stay on track and not devote this article to a diatribe detailing how utterly unreliable the taxis are here in Galesburg which prevented me from seeing the entire show.

In my opinion, the most memorable moment from the second act is a portrayal (with generous aid from the audience) of Ophelia’s ego, superego, and id, culminating in a heart-wrenching scream courtesy of an audience volunteer.

The actors kept the audience engaged and comfortable despite the play’s reliance on their participation, which may have been off-putting in a different production. It was an extremely enjoyable experience made accessible through hard work on and off stage.

I was able to catch up with freshman Rosie Worthen who served as assistant stage-manager and props master for the show. This was her second production backstage with the Prairie Players where she’s learning “how to work a show” while being able to hang out with a lot of her friends.

Among them was Siebken, whose entire family is involved with the Prairie Players. As I browsed the program before the show, I noticed it was liberally sprinkled with Siebkens on and offstage. Siebken has been acting in Prairie Player productions since he was in the fourth grade and is excited about the company’s recent move into their new location on Seminary Street where they hope to be able to set up their own stage.

The production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was housed in the 21 Club instead of their usual location on Cherry Street.

“Scheduling performance dates can be a hassle,” said Siebken, so the move into a potential performance space of their own is a relief.

Within the next few years, Prairie Players hope to have a permanent stage and space to sell tickets instead of using Innkeeper’s Coffee as an intermediary.

Kelsey Ingle

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