Shakespeare(ish): remixed rogue style play

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Main feature icon for the play, “Shakespeare(ish): Remixed Rogue Style”

Shakespearean plays continue to inspire artists to interpret his works into their own unique style. One of them is the Rogue Artists Ensemble theatre group with their comical play, based upon Shakespeare’s iconic works. “Shakespeare(ish): Remixed Rogue Style” (formally known as “Hyperbole Bard”) which was performed on Feb 28, in Rio Hondo College’s Wray Theatre, represented by the Division of Arts and Cultural Programs.

At first glance of the poster, my first impression was the performance would end up being kid-friendly with childish jokes only a 3  year old would laugh at. Surprisingly, the play was hilarious! Everyone was laughing in unison – the joyful child in us was brought to life.

Before the play started,  the players – Taylor Coffman, Jeremy Hohn, Tovya Jacobs, Sarah Kay Peters, and Miles Taber – stepped onto the stage and Taber announced they were warming up. All of them were doing yoga like stretches, building their energetic momentum. Conventionally, a warm-up is done backstage. Doing this in front of their audience created a welcoming and friendly atmosphere as if we were accessing a little of the behind the scenes action.

Right off the bat, their prominent technique is their non verbal story telling through humorous body language. A four minute skit of Romeo and Juliet; Romeo played by Jacobs and Juliet played by Hohn (yes, a man which is ironic since Shakespeare is believed to be gay himself and some of his works contain hints of male homosexuality). The two actors were wearing goofy expressions and wide – eyed masks and they ran towards each other, kissing one another. Then Peters and Taber pulled them apart and as they are separating, their mask’s lips are still connected by a string like two cartoon love birds. After, they reenact the famous suicide scene; Juliet drank a bottle of poison, exaggeratedly fell down the floor unto her death. Romeo is discovering Juliet has killed herself, so he grabs a foam hand held knife and stabs himself on his chest, frantically motioning his hand, evoking thoughts of thousands of gallons of blood squirting out of him. The actors had the whole theatre full of laughter!

Along with funny body language comes an educational song about Shakespeare’s poetic style: iambic pentameter. Titled under the same name “Iambic Pentameter” (written by Matthew Patrick Davis) is performed by Coffman and Jacobs. As Coffman is singing that the iambic pentameter has a unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, she does this by putting emphasis on the stressed syllables, exemplifying Shakespeare’s famous line from “Hamlet”, “To be, or not to be, that is the question”. With every stressed syllable, Jacobs plays his retro keyboard/guitar and plays notes similar to the sounds of Mario hopping; while Hohn, Peters, and Taber wearing more silly masks, shake their hips along the music. All this happening at once is a tremendous distraction, and thus, the definition of iambic pentameter didn’t come through. Nonetheless, it was still entertaining.

The overall look of the play was simplistic, in contrast to the norm of a polished look such as extravagant clothing, layers of make up on the actors and actresses, and a tremendous stage setting. Despite this, those factors didn’t affect the quality of the play, but rather enhanced their interesting concepts of Shakespeare’s work and the players’ devotion in their performances – letting their superb art speak for itself.

Rogue Artists Ensemble performs their shows throughout California. Go to rogueartists.org for more information on upcoming events and more. If you love a good laugh and appreciate the works of literature, then you will enjoy their shows.