“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”
Amid the excited chatter from the audience, a humble actor takes the stage and states that the viewers will witness a theatrical feat rarely attempted: a performance of all of Shakespeare’s most popular plays in one play itself.
Directed by senior theater major Erica Mandato, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” combines humor, improvisation and classic theatrics in a way unlike any other play. Complete with only three actors, multiple characters are portrayed using lightning-fast costume changes backstage.
“They are the most talented, dedicated, inspiring individuals I have ever met,” Mandato said. “We have grown so close as a cast and as a family. It’s been the most amazing experience of my life.”
For sophomore theater major Sasha Schäfler, acting in the play was a different experience, since her part is scripted for a male actor.
“Incorporating me into it was very interesting at first since it was a part written for a guy,” Schäfler said. “But Erica was able to make it work. She was a great director, she was fun, and she was very open minded in letting us do our own improvisations.”
The play starts with the actors portraying “Romeo and Juliet,” then goes down the list from “Macbeth” all the way to Shakespeare’s comedies condensed into one script-reading piece. The play utilizes audience interaction as well, especially in the entire second act, which is completely devoted to the play “Hamlet.”
Mandato received a lot of praise from her actors in reward for being a proficient director. Freshman undeclared major Drew Allen appreciated her patience and devotion to the play, which took months to put together.
“She was very patient with all of us,” Allen said. “Very calm, collected and (she) always let us know when we did wrong and what we could do to better it.”
Allen also shared how Mandato was very much a part of the acting as much as directing.
“During rehearsals and the performances,” he said, “if you glanced at her in the audience, you could see her mouthing the words and mimicking the actions. She performed every single role along with us. She knew every role better than all of us.”
For Mandato, directing the play also involved turning it into a traveling children’s show for her senior capstone.
“We’ve traveled to hospitals across Georgia and Tennessee,” Mandato said, “performing the plays for cancer patients and other patients in the hospitals as well.”
She explained that one of the most stressful aspects of acting in hospitals was that she had to disinfect all the props, dry clean the costumes and follow hospital protocol religiously.
The play garnered many laughs and cheers from both nights that they performed. Freshman biology major Cristina Clines had seen the play before, but found Mandato’s rendition to be hilarious.
“I thought the acting was great and I would definitely recommend it to a friend,” Clines said. “I actually have seen this play before so I kinda knew what to expect, but it was still so funny because of some of the improvisation.”
Zach Roberts, a junior theater major, expressed his appreciation for his fellow actors and director.
“I was completely blown away,” Roberts said. “I did not expect any less, but at the same time, I didn’t realize how much effort they had all put into the play and how fantastic it was going to be.”