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HITTING A BARD PATCH : Golden West Brings Shakespeare to Life in 'Stage' Show

March 03, 1994|CORINNE FLOCKEN | Corinne Flocken is a free-lance writer who regularly covers Kid Stuff for the Times Orange County Edition.

"T o be, (Oh, lord, here we go . . .) or not to be, (This is, like, sooooo boring . . .)

That is the question. (Wait, was that an earthquake? No, darn it . . .)

Whether 'tis nobler (C'mon! I'm dying here . . .) to suffer the slings and arrows (Yeah, right. He should suffer through this class, sometime . . .) of outrageous fortune . . . (Fortune! Omigod, I forgot my lunch money!)

William Shakespeare may be lauded as the greatest poet and playwright in English literature, but if ol' Bill were alive today, even he would probably find high school kids a tough audience. Not that many adults don't find reading the Bard's works a daunting task, too. Given a choice, most of us would rather curl up with the manual for our Taiwanese microwave than tackle "Venus and Adonis."

On Tuesday and Wednesday, however, Golden West College will premiere a show that may help ease your Bard-o-phobia. Called "All the World's a Stage: Shakespeare's Monologues," the one-hour student production will feature scenes or soliloquies from five of Shakespeare's best-known works.

Rehearsals have been directed by Charles Mitchell, a theater arts professor at GWC. But because Mitchell was in a serious car accident last week, his wife--Renata Florin, an adjunct theater arts instructor at the school--will step in to direct the actual run. Performances are free and will be held at 8 p.m. in the school's Community Theater.

The program is the first of its kind to be staged by the community college's theater department and targets high school audiences and up, said David Anthony, the school's dean of fine arts.

"Students who are reading Shakespeare will see it come to life before their eyes," Anthony promised. "Live theater is so different from just reading a play; it's being there, the ambient feeling, seeing actors and actresses in the roles that give the words a whole different dimension."

"All the World's a Stage" features 30 actors, including high-schoolers and GWC theater students in their 20s through 40s.

To create the show, Mitchell selected scenes from "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark," "Macbeth," "As You Like It" and "The Merchant of Venice" that represent some of the most familiar themes in each play, including the scenes surrounding the murder in "Macbeth" as well as the young prince's confrontation with Ophelia, and the lady's subsequent insanity scene in "Hamlet." Also featured will be some of the most powerful and recognizable monologues from "Romeo and Juliet."

The cut-and-paste approach also allowed him to put more emphasis on the female characters in Shakespeare's canon, said Mitchell. Scenes featuring Lady Macbeth (including the famous "Out, out, damn spot" soliloquy) and Portia (doing her courtroom scene) from "The Merchant of Venice" are among the selections.

In the past, Golden West has steered away from Shakespeare for its public performances, running more toward musical theater and mysteries. The main reason, Mitchell said, was money.

"If you do a multi-scene approach, Shakespeare is very expensive to produce and it doesn't draw like a musical," he explained. To cut costs, GWC students constructed a versatile Old Globe-style set as well as Renaissance-era costumes that could be used for multiple productions. Both were used last season when GWC performed "The Comedy of Errors," and will be seen again Friday through March 13 in a staging of "Romeo and Juliet," as well as in "All the World's a Stage."

Mitchell compared his new monologue program to a revue ("You could call it 'The Best of Shakespeare,' " he said with a laugh), and says he's eager to see how young adults respond to it. If funding could be found, he said he would consider repackaging it as a touring show that could visit area high school theater and literature classes.

"We want to perform (Shakespeare works) as much as possible, to introduce audiences to it as well as our own students," explained Mitchell. "This is a learning experience for all of us."

What: "All the World's a Stage: Shakespeare's Monologues."

When: Tuesday and Wednesday, March 8 and 9, at 8 p.m.

Where: Golden West College Community Theater, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach.

Whereabouts: From the San Diego (405) Freeway, exit at Golden West Street and drive south. Turn left on McFadden Avenue, then right on Gothard Street. Metered parking is available in the Gothard Street lot.

Wherewithal: Free.

Where to call: (714) 895-8772.

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