POSTED ON JUNE 5, 2013:
All the World's a Stage
Or at least a little piece of downtown will be
Jenny Guy has wanted to do this for a while.
And after a year of phone calls, meetings, and fundraising, she's getting her wish. She's presenting Shakespeare in the Park.
Well, not by herself.
"Tulsa Shakespeare in the Park is our own company, and we've partnered with the University of Tulsa and the department of theater to produce this," she said.
She kind of had an in since she teaches there. So hey, free rehearsal space. And also, a good pool of actors from which to draw.
"We're using professional actors, professional actors that are also university faculty, students from TU, college students from around here, and other local professional actors from around," Guy said. It's a sizable cast, and there is some serious acting cred therein.
"My Benedict is a faculty member at TU as well, but he's formerly worked with Steppenwolf Theater, and he actually originated one of the roles in August, Osage County at Steppenwolf, so he's kind of a big deal," Guy said. She will play Beatrice.
The actual production will be quite a spectacle. Held at the Guthrie Green, there isn't much of a backstage for storage of sets, hiding away of props, or places for actors to go when they're not onstage.
While there will be a few set items, like chairs and such, rather than having backdrops or flats, Guy has a high-tech solution.
"TU is one of the few undergrad departments in the country that works with projection design," she said. "We'll have some set pieces -- some columns and some arches -- but we'll also have a 13-by-33-foot LED screen at the back and two screens on the sides."
What will be projected will be images of Tulsa from the past.
"It's set in World War II-era Tulsa," Guy said. "So what we'll be projecting will be historical images of Tulsa from that time. So our set will be the Skelly Mansion, the McBirney Mansion, the Memorial Park Cemetery for the burial scene, so it's going to be set in Tulsa."
The question of why Tulsa isn't so hard to answer, but why the 1940s?
"Well, you need war for Much Ado to work," Guy said. "A lot of times, it's just general Back Then, and people do it with just general war. We wanted to give it a specific era. World War II gives people something to cling to, and one of my things was I wanted it to be a beautiful era, because people come to Shakespeare in the Park to see beautiful costumes and beautiful things onstage. And if we're not going to do corsets, we'll have something else beautiful to look at. And the '40s was such a beautiful and exciting time in Tulsa. It just makes sense to do it that way."
There's more to the changes, though. For one thing, not many princes were running around Tulsa in the '40s.
"We've changed things like titles," Guy said. "It's originally set in Italy, and as you know, Shakespeare is so easy to adapt. All we've really done is, instead of saying Prince Don Pedro, we say General Don Pedro. And Benedict isn't Sir Benedict, he's Major Benedict."
Live music will also figure in to help set the stage and the era.
"The scenes where they fool Benedict into believing Beatrice is in love with him and fool Beatrice into thinking Benedict is in love with her -- we've set his in a barber shop with a barbershop quartet singing, and hers will be in a beauty parlor with an Andrews Sisters kind of group," she said. "We'll have swing dancing, and our dance faculty is choreographing some things there. We'll have a major swing dance to 'In The Mood' to start our masquerade. This is going to be big. We wanted to do it right and show people what's possible and how cool it could be."
And it figures to be pretty big, so Guy is likely going to get her wish.
"The whole reason I've done this and always wanted to do this and have been so determined about it is to get a grass-roots Tulsa thing happening," she said. "Raise awareness about local businesses and show people how cool this town has gotten. I went away to grad school, and then I acted around here and there, and when I came back, it wasn't the same town I left five years before. It's insane down here. I don't know that everyone in Tulsa, especially in the south, knows how great it is."
In keeping with going big, Guy and Tulsa Shakespeare in the Park will be partnering with several different groups with each performance, the goal being a synergistic one.
"We've got a food truck night, and we wanted to work with a local charity, so we're going to do Turn Tulsa Pink. The audience is encouraged to wear pink, and we'll have their dog making a cameo in the train station scene," she said. The Thursday partnership is with the Mid America Ford Performance and Shelby Car Show, which figures to put about 3,000 people in the downtown area, and Friday will be a sort of Brady District Business Awareness show.
Tulsa Shakespeare in the Park presents Much Ado About Nothing June 11-16. All shows start at 8:30pm, with a pre-show starting at 7:30pm, and all shows are free.
Send all comments and feedback regarding Arts to email@example.com.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A60841