O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend / The brightest heaven of invention, / A kingdom for a stage, princes to act / And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!William Shakespeare, Henry V, Chorus
This week we’d like to introduce you to some key players behind the scenes.
First, our producers. Ken Lawler (Producer, right) and Susanne Moog (Assistant Producer, left) are working closely together, much in the sense of: the show must go on!
Our Production Team is master of multi-tasking and keeps a close eye, actually, several pairs of eyes that is, on various issues.
One of the jobs is to look after the play’s budget plan. Since our productions are run on a charity basis (there is free entrance to the summer Shakespeare open air shows, yes free entrance!), we plunge into treasure hunts across flea markets all over the area. Our Shakespeare productions live much on a visual impact, so our set, props and costumes need to be carefully contrived, and flea markets offer wonderful treasures in this respect.
Another important job is to look after advertisement. Together with the business team, the producers gather posters and flyers which then need to be shared with our lovely public, cast and crew bios need to be collected and programmes to be fashioned — all of which requires much co-ordination between the production and business team and all members of a show.
Further they are responsible for coordinating all the technical issues and staging requirements, thus aligning closely with stage management. Luckily, since Ken is also the set designer, communication paths can be kept short and efficient. Ken’s philosophy is that a performance must entertain the audience, take them by the hand and guide them through the story, but at the same time, they become willing accomplices to the actors. Hence, much in the vein of Shakespeare’s own words, as Chorus to Henry V, Ken asks our audience to “let us, ciphers to this great accompt, / On your imaginary forces work […] / Piece out our imperfection with your thoughts.” We’ll soon be able to offer you a sneak peek of our set, so stay tuned.
Another person who holds a big responsibility in the show is the Assistant Director. Let us introduce you to Julia Pflüger, this year’s Assistant Director to Romeo & Juliet (Photo: Dora Lutz).
Let us hear Julia’s view on Shakespeare, his plays and this production.
Julia had her first contact with Shakespeare in German and wasn’t all too impressed. Only later, once she read the original versions, she soon became an ardent fan of Shakespeare (especially the tragedies and histories) and dedicated her undergraduate and graduate studies to the interface between Shakespeare and linguistics. Ever since 2012, she has spent her summers in Stratford-upon-Avon for Shakespeare performances and workshops at the Royal Shakespeare Company, furthering her interest in (and may we add, obsession with) Shakespeare and his plays.
During her undergraduate studies, she was an active member of the Bonn University Shakespeare Company and acted in/directed several Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare plays. Her favourite production as a director so far has been Titus Andronicus (she clearly likes the bloody plays…) which – while being far from perfect – is also her favourite Shakespeare play (spoken like a true tragedy fan!), because it is an intriguingly raw and unforgiving play, which features some very memorable characters and scenes. It is basically a 16th-century-Tarantino film.
For Julia, Shakespeare’s plays represent the perfect balance between an intriguing story and a fascinating language. As a linguist, she regards Shakespeare’s texts as a never-ending source of research opportunities for all areas of language usage – be it his highly interesting use of personal pronouns (you-thou) and what it tells us about characters and their relationships, or the way in which he coined thousands of words (ok, slightly exaggerated…) which are still being used in contemporary English. One thing is for certain: Shakespeare shaped the linguistic and theatrical world of today unlike any other author/playwright in the history of the English language.
This pretty much sums it up why we never tire of presenting Shakespeare to our audience. His plays are unique examples of aesthetic linguistic brilliance as much as true representations of human nature. And Romeo & Juliet is delicious dish served with a bit of teenage rebellion, a bit of fencing, a bit poisoning… Ah well, do you look forward to this production as much as we do?