LANESBORO — You missed the rehearsals, but director Jaclyn Johnson doesn’t mind; you’ll play your part just fine.
Consider this your invitation (or warning): Participation is an important part of Commonweal Theatre’s production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”
The high-energy show draws the audience in and draws them together, making it a good choice for a post-pandemic performance, Johnson said.
“It makes the show feel like the right show now as we get used to being out with each other,” she said. “We kind of have to retrain ourselves and open ourselves up to each other again.”
Johnson credits the original authors of the show — Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield — for crafting a script that encourages audience members to play along when the time comes.
“By the time we ask them to get involved and raise their voices, we want them to know they’re a part of the team,” she said.
Three actors will touch on all of Shakespeare’s massive catalog of comedies, tragedies, historical plays, and other works for the stage. You can follow a checklist of his works in the program, if you’re quick enough to catch the references. The small ensemble breezes through them in 97 minutes.
The show is a sendup of the Bard of Avon that walks the audience through the formula of his comedies.
“There’s a storm at the beginning, the ship washes onto an island, then you meet these people there,” Johnson explained.
She described the script as a celebration of the English language, which Shakespeare had a hand in shaping.
Most theatergoers will have at least a passing familiarity with Shakespeare. Some may consider the centuries-old shows overrated and over-performed. Brandt Roberts’ character will resonate with them as he questions the exercise.
Others will come with an affinity for Shakespeare’s plays. They'll relate to the character Ben, played by Ben Gorman, who in real life enjoys Shakespeare.
“It’s just really great to have someone who’s familiar with the stories, and has a passion and appreciation of Shakespeare,” Johnson said.
For those who view Shakespeare with more of an academic or intellectual eye, Elizabeth Dunn will be their touchstone throughout the show.
"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" opens Saturday, July 10, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 24.
If you go
What: Commonweal Theatre’s “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”
When: Opens Saturday, July 10, at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Sunday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m. See commonwealtheatre.org for details.
Where: Commonweal Theatre Company, 208 Parkway Ave. N., Lanesboro
Tickets: Call 800-657-7025 or 507-467-2525, or email email@example.com.