On Oct. 6, the Maryville College Theatre Department will open its new show, “Speak Low if You Speak Love.” Conceived and directed by Dr. Heather McMahon, the show is comprised of scenes and songs from Shakespeare’s popular plays “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
With a strict timeline of only five weeks, McMahon said she knew that a traditional full-length play was not an option.
“Taking on a full-length play this semester wouldn’t have worked, so I created a script that uses some of the best of Shakespeare’s best known plays: Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream so that students get to work with the language and develop characters,” McMahon said.
As with any production, rehearsal space is intricate and fosters the show, and with any Shakespeare production there is an extra added level of using rehearsal space to project oneself into a completely different way of speaking and acting.
“I have been treating the production like a sort of master class on performing Shakespeare,” McMahon said. “We have used part of our rehearsal time every night to explore different acting techniques that the students can use when tackling the language and understanding the characters.”
In addition to the first and second acts, there is also a musical enhancement element to the production. Dr. Sheri Matascik, associate professor of music, is recording an acoustic guitar underscore for the program based on music that would have been popular during the time Shakespeare would have writing.
Another musical extension of the show will feature live music directed by Stacey Wilner, senior lecturer in music and director of choral activities. Wilner will be conducting several Concert Choir students in singing “Sigh No More, Ladies” and “O, Mistress of Mine.” Both of these songs were written by Shakespeare himself.
Junior Lenny Lively will be choreographing the actors for dances based on his research into dance styles in the English Renaissance.
“The music enhances the production so much, and I am really excited about the collaboration between the music program and the theatre program here at MC,” McMahon said. “Not only are our students richer for it, but so are the performances that we open up to the public!”
“Speak Love if You Speak Love” will open on Oct. 6 at 8:00 p.m. in the Haslam Family Flexible Theatre located in the Clayton Center in for the Arts. Other showings will be Oct. 7 at 8:00 p.m. and Oct 8 at 2:00 p.m.