Organizers: Shakespeare's abridged works can be enjoyed by all

November 08, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - People regard playwright William Shakespeare with such reverence that Malinda Shaver is unsure how the audience will respond to a production that combines all 37 of Shakespeare's plays into one performance - with 36 of them in the first act.

"People take Shakespeare too seriously," said Shaver, who is directing "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" for Apollo Civic Theatre.

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" debuts Friday and will continue through Sunday, Nov. 11. The play smooshes together all of Shakespeare's plays, with the second half of the play solely dedicated to "Hamlet." All will make sense in the end, Shaver said.

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" was the brainchild of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a comedy troupe founded in California and responsible for "The Complete History of America (abridged)" and, more recently, "All the Great Books (abridged)."


Shakespeare buffs should have little trouble keeping track of all the Shakespeare references. "We have a checklist in the program," Shaver said.

Those who don't do Shakespeare won't be left in the dark. "Most people think it's pretty funny," Shaver said.

Shaver said the show is a "trial balloon" to gauge whether Apollo audiences would get into Shakespeare. Actors performed the first act of the play at a theater festival at Musselman High and Middle schools in late October.

Shaver said it was well-received at the theater fest, but she said she was curious to see how well it will go over at Apollo. There will be moderated post-show discussions on Friday and Saturday to see what theater-goers think about the show.

"Is (Shakespeare) simply for entertainment? What is the role of parody?" Shaver said. "I'm interested in hearing people's reactions."

The set for this play is sparse, with a single backdrop. There also are only three actors - Brian Leben of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Joseph Vega and Sarah Stickley, both of Martinsburg.

Vega, Leben and Stickley are new to the Apollo stage, but all have experience with Shakespeare, Shaver said.

"I'd like to work with them on a more serious Shakespeare play," Shaver said.

If you go ...

WHAT: "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10. 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.

WHERE: Apollo Civic Theatre, 128 E. Martin St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: $15, Friday and Saturday admission. $12, Sunday admission. Students with ID pay $7 for any show.

MORE: For more information, call the theater at 304-263-6766 or visit the theater's Web site,

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