Off-beat theater class channels the Bard
The tires of a black Hummer screeched to a stop. With The Black Keys blaring, three men stepped out of the truck and onto an unorthodox stage that would host their impending performance. The audience watched as the alley behind Schmaltz’s Sandwich Shoppe in downtown Waco set the scene for an act from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
Three years later, two of those audience members will bring the work of Shakespeare to different locations around Waco in the series “Shakespeare on Location.” Arlington senior Amy Dale is one of the four students who applied and was chosen for this semester’s Advanced Directing class at Baylor.
“It’s great to take the theater out of the building,” Dale said, noting that unique locations allow for an up-close and personal experience for the audience that isn’t achieved on the stage.
Dale said she was swayed from her initial plan of acting once she discovered the thrill of directing.
“I saw the scene behind Schmaltz’s and messaged the director to discuss how good it was,” Dale said. “I decided I wanted to do it September of my freshman year and didn’t know if I would have a chance.”
“Junior year, I was asked in a class if I wanted to direct and realized I loved it,” Dale said.
Dale wasn’t the only member of the group. Tomball senior Michael Griffith wasn’t sure he had the personality to direct an act.
“I fell in love with the entire aspect of theater instead of just the acting,” Griffith said.
The Shakespeare scenes are performed all over Waco, and this year’s venues include Cottonland Castle off of Austin Avenue as well as the space beneath the Waco Suspension Bridge downtown.
“They would do Shakespeare scenes in the theaters, but certain complications led to the idea of on-location scenes,” Dale said.
Part of the challenge the troupe runs into is the spontaneity of the performance locations. Gulf Breeze, Fla., senior Sarah Beard, who was at the same performance as Dale her freshman year, ran into complications with the on-location aspect of the performance. Beard’s location for an upcoming show fell through, and she is tasked with finding a new stage.
“The location was a colonial-style house from the 1800s, and I’m still looking for an old house for the scene,” Beard said.
The different scenes performed are from “Macbeth,” “Richard III,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet.” At 3:30 p.m. Friday, Reed’s rendition of “Hamlet” kicks off the Shakespeare on Location series in Barfield Drawing Room in the Bill Daniel Student Center. Dale will direct her scene at 7 p.m. Sunday under the suspension bridge downtown. Griffith’s “Richard III” scene will be performed at 7 p.m. Monday at the Cottonland Castle located at 3300 Austin Ave.