As I mentioned in End of an Era, the West End Studio Theatre had their last scheduled performance tonight, with the showcase for the teen Shakespeare Conservatory which they teach with the aid of Santa Cruz Shakespeare. The first week of the conservatory is acting classes, seeing all the Santa Cruz Shakespeare plays, talking with dramaturges, actors, and other creative staff from Santa Cruz Shakespeare and post-performance analysis of the plays. The second week is intensive work on the showcase that they perform at the end of the week.
They named the show Villains and Braggarts, doing seven scenes and four sonnets. My son was one of the 5 performers in Sonnet 133 (which they played as a courtroom scene), Malvolio in a scene from Twelfth Night (where he ends the party of Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Maria, and Feste), RIchard III courting Lady Anne over the corpse of her husband, and Theseus in the play within a play scene from Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is the second time that my son has played Malvolio at one of the WEST Shakespeare conservatories—he did the cross-gartered and in yellow stockings scene in 2011.
I thought that they did a very good job of the scenes, but the sonnets were rather hard to follow when played as scenes—I needed for them to go at about half the speed they did to catch what was being said. Members of the audience who were even less familiar with Shakespeare than me had trouble following some of the scenes also, as they were just snippets from the plays and rather heavily cut.
Although a couple of the actors have graduated from high school, most of the troupe were younger, so I think that West Performing Arts has a good crop of actors coming up, and I’ll continue to go to the teen performances for the next couple of years, even though my son will no longer be on their stage.
I think that the audience most appreciated the fight scene from Romeo and Juliet, where the students got to show off the dagger stage fighting they had learned a week earlier, and the play within a play from Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I overheard plans for WEST doing a fundraiser (probably for their scholarship fund) in a couple of weeks, but I don’t know whether this will be at the West End Studio Theatre or at Broadway Playhouse. Next week Terri Steinmann and John Pasha will be driving 10 teens up to Ashland to see five plays there and take a few workshops. My son will be going, though he’s already seen two of the five productions from when he took the spring trip to Ashland with Alternative Family Education.