Portlandesque

Insights & Impetus on Artists & Cultural Adventures in Portland

Much Ado about Re-Theatre in Rep

Posted by Nicole Lane on 05/29/2009

ReTheatre

Much Ado About Nothing – The Repertory Show
The Classic & The Adaptation
from
The Re-Theatre Instrument

This is a BIG undertaking. Re-Theatre is doing Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” in repertory — a theatre producer’s nightmare and pure joy, alternately, depending on where they are in the run.  Some of you folks who aren’t rabid theatre goers may not really know what “In Repertory” means – I know I didn’t until about 7 years ago when I got bit by the theatre bug.

In short, repertory is: one play, two versions, same cast, two productions running in approximately the same time frame. Check out this calendar for a visual understanding.

Tonight, I’m off to see Re-Theatre’s The Classic version of Much Ado. It doesn’t sound all that “classic” to me, as it is set on the New Orleans bayou in the 1920s. But that’s sort of how theatre goes. I believe I can expect Shakespeare’s words in this new context. I fervently hope to catch The Adaptation too, where the cast has written what I hear to be hilarious contemporary dialogue to follow Shakespeare’s story arc.

With these Much Ado productions, Re-Theatre is using a classic, but this is not mandatory with pieces done in rep. I’ve observed that there seem to be two basic treatment twists on classic stories like this one, and then further treatment variations. The first approach: words are pristine, but everything else can change; the second: the conceptual and sometimes plot premise is loosely followed, but an original play is created. Insight Out’s For:Give, directed by Tony Fuemmeler, was an example of the latter approach. Just like For:Give, The Adaptation version of Much Ado was written in the rehearsal process by the cast. Read about Re-Theatre’s process, I think this sort of work is invigorating to theatre craft and love it.

If you’ve read my “About Portlandesque” tab, you’ll know that what I choose write about is unsolicited. Such is the case with this entry. However, full disclosure, we are incestuous in the Portland Arts world and proud of it. I gladly helped out my friends at Re-Theatre with PR & Marketing when they were just starting up last year as you’ll note here – and since you clicked that link, take a read through those company bios and be impressed. Just for fun, watch this promo video, too.

I decided to write about this show to introduce the work of Re-Theatre Instrument to my readers and because many of you are not huge theatre buffs and might be up for some learning via these Much Ado shows. But mostly, I wanted to write to credit my friends who worked on this project, who have poured their time and creativity into the show and this theatre company:  Sam Kusnetz, Jason Zimbler, Luke Norby, Jamie Rea, Kyle Lange. I know very well what it takes to start and run a theatre company and the amount of work that goes into each production, let alone two concurrently. I do plan to feature some of these Re-Theatre friends individually in the future, our paths have crossed on many other projects and they all individually make important contributions to the Arts & Culture scene in Portland.

Go forth – try to see both Much Ado versions in the next two weekends and I will too.*

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – The Repertory Show
Classic:  May 8 – June 6, 2009
Adaptation:  May 15 – June 6, 2009
Click Here for a helpful calendar.

TICKETS
Buy: Tickets On-Line
Call: 503-922-2453
Visit: 1111 SW Broadway

Tickets – $20
Thursdays – pay what you will

performing at
Portland Center for the Performing Arts – Brunish Hall
1111 SW Broadway – Portland, OR

 * I’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of plays done in Rep. It is not about dual story concept, which requires a ton of creativity and dedication from the cast, crew and producers, but instead plain frustration with timing. Rarely do I have time to see both versions and sometimes I feel like I should spread the love and see another company’s work. Is it guilt? Is it regret? Is it that there are just so MANY shows to see? Maybe it’s just me.

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One Response to “Much Ado about Re-Theatre in Rep”

  1. Nicole Lane said

    It is not that I didn’t expect the show to be good – of course it would be. But, when you have friends in a play and you know the caliber of the theatre company, you might just get lazy with a pre-expectation. I did.

    Not only did I like it, I totally loved it.

    It was more funny and physical than I expected. I was front row and literally LOL. Sure, it was Shakespeare, but thoroughly accessible with skilled actors who made contemporary line delivery and physical choices that modernized the work.

    Indeed, the most arresting aspect of this Much Ado (The Classic) was the acting. Spot on. Genius. Each of the actors seemed to know the emotive depths and motivations of their character(s) and were able to spin their tales effortlessly.

    In talking to Re-Theatre’s Artistic Director Jason Zimbler about this, he credits the nature of this show done in repertory with The Adaptation. The cast wrote The Adaptation, so it would make sense that they would have a rich and substantive grasp of those character motivations and plot twists in order to create a new story. Besides, remember that they switch characters betwixt the plays. The result is phenomenal acting. Of particular note are Luke Norby as Benedick and Jamie Rae as Beatrice, to say they stole the show would be unfair to the stellar work of the rest of the cast, but to not point them out would be an omission.

    In my mind, Re-Theatre has proven, again, the timelessness of Shakespeare, the power of theatrical creativity with classic plays, and that Re-Theatre is serious about being the company that does that, well. I am going to do all I can to go see The Adaptation in the next two weeks…I feel like I HAVE to go now. Maybe I will actually become a fan of repertory work thanks to Re-Theatre? You go give it a shot too, eh?

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