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Theatre group revamps Shakespeare

Imagine all the wholesome goodness of Shakespeare, packaged like a bag of Doritos. “We like to make Shakespeare kind of taste like junk food,” Charles Roy, co-founder and co-artistic director of the Classical Theatre Project, said.
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A scene from The Classical Theatre Project’s production of Romeo and Juliet, scheduled to be performed in Sudbury outside Tom Davies Square in August. Supplied photo.

 Imagine all the wholesome goodness of Shakespeare, packaged like a bag of Doritos.

“We like to make Shakespeare kind of taste like junk food,” Charles Roy, co-founder and co-artistic director of the Classical Theatre Project, said.

“It’s fun, it’s accessible, and its comprehensible by everybody.”

This energetic brand of Shakespeare is scheduled to come to Sudbury from Aug. 26 to 28, as well as the following weekend.

The Classical Theatre Project, based out of Toronto, is dedicated to making Shakespeare comprehensible, and caters especially to student audiences.

Although the language is “word for word what Shakespeare wrote,” Roy said the presentation of the shows is what makes them easier to understand.

Dave Galpern, co-founder and co-artistic director, said “we don’t dumb it down, we don’t simplify, we don’t take the nutritional value out of it. We just make it really fun.”

Since its inception 10 years ago, the Classical Theatre Project has performed for about 500,000 people in Canada and the United States. According to Galpern, the company is the largest producer of theatre for teenage audiences in North America. Roy added the productions are “for 17-year-olds, or the 17-year-old in all of us.”

Teens have started dragging their parents, kicking and screaming, to see Shakespeare, instead of the other way around.

Charles Roy,
co-founder, The Classical Theatre Project

“When a teenager comes to see our shows, they generally fall head over heels,” he said.

“(We’ve noticed) the teens have started dragging their parents, kicking and screaming, to see Shakespeare, instead of the other way around.”

The Classical Theatre Project has brought several Shakespearian plays to life, including Romeo and Juliet, which the group will perform in Sudbury.

Roy said in order to make the plays more audience-friendly, the company tries to make them relevant to what’s happening in modern society, without forgetting the production’s origins.

“I try to find modern residences in the plays themselves, without bringing them in to the modern world,” he said.

Galpern said they also try to make their productions relevant to the people watching them.

“Over the course of 10 years, I think we’ve got really good at inspiring our audiences,” he said. “Our actors are young and accessible. It’s designed to get people responding to the plays.”

When Romeo and Juliet plays in Sudbury, its stage will be outside Tom Davies Square.

“We’re going to be transforming Tom Davies Square into a fun, original, artistic space where theatre can happen,” Galpern said.

The space will be able to hold about 150 to 200 people per show, but get there early to ensure you get a good seat, because the show is free.

“We want this to be accessible to anybody,” Galpern said. “We don’t want to discriminate based on economic situation or status or background of any kind.”

Roy said he hopes The Classical Theatre Project can eventually become a festival in Sudbury. This year it will include food and drinks, but Roy would like to see it grow into an event with “as much arts and culture as we can actually cram into one space.”

Galpern added, “we’re trying to make this as much a part of the Sudbury artistic community as possible.”

The organization has teamed up with the Sudbury Theatre Centre. Most acting roles have already been filled by professional actors, but there are some spots still available for local talent.

For more information about the Classical Theatre Project, visit www.classicaltheatreproject.ca.




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