In Shakespeare Heaven 2007

Globe Theatre, 312 Main St, Palmerston North

23/04/2007 - 24/04/2007

Production Details

Inspired by William Shakespeare
Director: Trygve Wakenshaw
Producer: Richard Green


The Ugly Shakespeare Company is now on the 2007 National Tour of New Zealand.

This tour involves two productions, a junior show and a senior show.

Once again the USC’s outlandishly funny and unique style comedy is used to present two of the Bard’s works, The Tempest and King Lear. These two plays have come up time and time again in requests from you for the plays that you want us to choose.

King Lear is aimed at the senior school, with more of a text-based focus. It still includes the fast paced and irreverent style that the USC is famous for. Three energetic and frantic actors take the audience on a journey through this incredible tragedy.

The Tempest is used as an introduction to Shakespeare for the younger audience (yrs 7-9) or can be used as a show for the whole school at once. Less text based and more a guide to some of the devices and styles of Elizabethan theatre, The Tempest allows audiences to enjoy Shakespeare and live theatre on their own terms in their own environment.

Both plays are offered for all schools. Each runs between 45 – 50 minutes duration. There is time afterwards for the actors to answer questions from the audience. This is very popular with students and teachers alike.

Workshops are once again being offered to students with a maximum of 25 in the class. These are practical workshops rather than text based. Once again we offer free workshops if a certain number of students attend (see pricing). It is policy that workshops occur after a performance as often the two are linked.

Community Performances for your school or community are also available. This is an opportunity to provide live, professional New Zealand theatre to your community. It can also be used as a fundraiser if you wish. Fees for these are negotiable. You must have a school show if you wish to have a community show.

Brad McCormick
Aaron Cortesi
Tama Jarman

Theatre ,

Mischievous mutilation of the Bard

Review by Richard Mays 03rd May 2007

"For what we are about to do to your plays, forgive us."

After this short petition, a solemn, reverent evening to mark the Bard’s 443rd birthday, this was never going to be. For the last 12 years, the Auckland-based Ugly Shakespearos, brainchild of former Palmerston North performer Richard Green, have been unhinging, rehashing, and rearranging the Bard in their own mirror-shattering image.

Aimed primarily at teens, some 35,000 secondary students a year are perverted by these professional farce-paced action-packed and sublimely silly introductions to something vaguely approximating the gist of Shakespeare’s plays. The results speak for themselves. Audiences start giving a hoot about Shakespearean dramas, or at least, the short-cut revue versions.

Director Trygve Wakenshaw’s condensed take on The Tempest has Ariel performed by an aerial, confuses Caliban with Taleban, mixes Shakespearean language with hip-hop, celeb-speak and teenage jargon, throws in some commedia dell arte, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, puppetry, mime and a break dance. The Bard was definitely spotted in there somewhere.

King Lear as reinterpreted by Green, owes plenty to the Goon Show, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, with the Duke of Albany as an Elvis impersonator, Edgar as nongish hick, and believe it or not every so often, there’s some Shakespeare. This superb piss-take of the great tragedy is capped with a series of manufactured out-takes and bloopers from the rehearsals.

The three performers, Brad McCormick, Aaron Cortesi and Tama Jarman turn these maverick 45-minute de-compositions of the Bard into zany mini-masterpieces. Displaying superb comedic confidence and character control, great facial expressions and timing, they revel in the cartoonish physicality, frenetic role interchanges, and rapid-fire dialogue, to emerge breathlessly but triumphantly, intact. Cortesi doubling as a gormless Lear and super-fiendish Edmund, takes the cake – just, in the most coherent of the two extended skits.

Somehow, Shakespeare still manages to survive this funny, affectionate off-the-wall mangling. Happy birthday, Bill.  
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