Blacklight Shakespeare project takes center stage

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photos by Adrienne Pearson

On March 4-6, Blacklight Shakespeare took to the stage in St. Joseph’s Auditorium.

“A lot of people have fed into the development of this program,” said director Doug Donald. Blacklight Shakespeare began in 2007 in the Warehouse District of Dubuque as a 16 minute show. Since 2007, it has been a 40 minute production. As of this year, it is full length.

As the lights dimmed and between certain scenes, a projector showed various facts about Shakespeare, including that he invented 1700 words and phrases we still use today, such as addiction, bandit, bedroom, jaded, frugal, torture and obscene.

The narrator of the production was Puck, originally from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and was played by junior Emma Horst.

The opening scene, from “Hamlet,” showcased the haunting effects of blacklight, which was used throughout the entire show. The characters all wore masks, gloves, props and costume pieces specially painted to show up under black light. The rest of the wardrobe was black and essentially invisible on stage. This made for interesting effects, such as giving the appearance of floating knives, skulls, and other props.

shakespeare 1There was a montage of Shakespeare’s most notable quotes, which would not be heard in the rest of the production. Among them: “Brevity is the soul of wit,” “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ear,” “Now is the winter of our discontent,” and of course “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

In total, Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, two long poems and 154 sonnets, one of which, Sonnet 18, was performed during this production.

The next segment was “Globe World News,” a Shakespearean-themed news report, which was led by anchorman and famous Shakespearean actor, William Kemp. Assisting him was fellow bombastic actor, Richard Burbage. The entertainment portion featured a scene from “Taming of the Shrew.”

“It’s the group collaboration, getting everyone’s ideas and seeing what you end up with. It’s when an actor surprises me with what I hadn’t thought of,” said Donald, about the process leading up to the show.

The next segment of the show, an audience favorite, involved the actors going into the audience, picking out members at random and hurling Shakespearean insults at them.

The most disturbing and yet amusing portion of the show was the acting out of the final scenes of “Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. The murders were portrayed by puppets, adding humor to an otherwise very dark scene.

shakespeare 2“Blacklight is really cool. We intentionally show things instead of intentionally hiding things, which is the traditional way of going about it,” said sophomore Cheyenne Secor.

“This was one of the more fun projects that I’ve been able to do here,” said performer and junior George St. John. “Taking something timeless and putting a new spin on it is a really amazing thing. I gotta give the credit to Doug.”

The Loras players have been putting on productions for 106 seasons, and this was their 350th production.

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