MARSHALL -Whether you set a Shakespeare show in the 1500s, the 1870s or the 1930s, the words all have the same meaning.
And how those words are interpreted sometimes can present a challenge to actors.
The Marshall Area Stage Company is presenting its Shakespeare in the Park production of "The Merchant of Venice" at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 20 and 21 and 2 p.m. Aug. 22 in the Liberty Park bandshell. The show is being directed by Marcie Anderson.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Osha Karow, left, as Bassanio and Justin Helmer as Shylock, rehearse a scene from the upcoming Marshall Area Stage Company Shakespeare in the Park production of “The Merchant of Venice.”
Studying the iambic pentameter and meaning of Shakespeare's words is the one thing actors take on every summer. And sometimes getting a large part can take more concentration. That's what Sonja Nelson is finding out after playing one of the fairies for Southwest Minnesota State's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." For "Merchant," she's gotten a bigger part as Portia, the heroine.
"It's a little daunting having all these lines," Nelson said.
One of those parts is during the show's courtroom scene, where Portia has a monologue.
"I took a lot of time trying to figure out what every line meant," Nelson said. "If you can't understand it, it gets boring."
Nelson said the actors take their own time to learn their lines. And during rehearsals, actors will go off on their own in the park to recite their part.
Even teens are getting involved with the show. Talitha Black said she's read a couple of Shakespeare's plays, which include "Julius Caesar" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
"It's fun, I've never done it (Shakespeare) before and I like doing plays," Black said.
Being in "Merchant" is also Bridgette von Cordes' first time performing Shakespeare. She said it's been fun, yet challenging learning the different interpretations of the language.
"I'm a learner," von Cordes said. "You can relate this play to social context to what's going on right now, what's going on in our power structures and the undertones of racism."
As for memorizing the lines, von Cordes said that's been a bigger challenge.
"(But) it boosts my public speaking skills," von Cordes said.
And being in the show gives her a break from the day-to-day monotony, von Cordes said.
"It's good to meet people from the community and fun for the family," von Cordes said. Her 11-year-old son Andrew is also in the show playing a servant. He was in last year's production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," and von Cordes said her son has found his niche and built his confidence.
"He's blossomed in the last two years," von Cordes said.
Unlike Cordes, Osha Karow said he's been surrounded by Shakespeare since high school, which included a role as Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Then he's studied more about the playwright in theater classes at Southwest Minnesota State University.
With Shakespeare, it's all about the words and the rhyming, Karow said, repeating the words over and over again is important.
"It kind of sticks with you," Karow said.
"It taught me how to, at very least, to interpret Shakespeare," Karow added.
And Shakespeare can be interpreted in different ways and settings. For example, Nelson said, Anderson is setting the show in the late 1930s, early 1940s, mainly for costuming.
"It will be more visually pleasing for the audience," Nelson said.
"You can transpose it into any setting," said Mike Olivigni, one of the actors.