The "Rough, Rude & Boisterous Tour": The Bard Returns to Campus

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Fairmont State University School of Fine Arts and the Department of Language and Literature present the American Shakespeare Center's "Rough, Rude & Boisterous Tour" for a week of Elizabethan lyricism, love and oh-so-bitter woe. Beginning Thursday, March 25, three separate productions will take place - "Romeo & Juliet," "All's Well that Ends Well" and "Knight of the Burning Pestle" - as well as some highly instructive workshops.

The performances

On Thursday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Wallman Hall Theatre on the main FSU campus, the ASC troupe will perform "Romeo and Juliet." With its ravishing language and uproarious comedy, "Romeo and Juliet" celebrates love's triumphs and trivialities. Verona's walls embrace the volatility of youth as well as the wisdom and restraint that sometimes escape young and old alike. Dance, athleticism and swordplay share the stage with sonnets, bawdy wit and soul-searching speeches in this deeply human and always surprising masterpiece.

On Friday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the theatre, the troupe will perform "Knight of the Burning Pestle." Imagine Homer and Marge Simpson buying tickets to a Chekhov play and then climbing on stage to redirect the show with Bart as the star, and you have some idea of the fun Beaumont unleashes in "The Knight of the Burning Pestle." Loaded with music and merriment, this play mimics the manner in which Elizabethan audiences expected to become part of the action.

At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, the ASC troupe will perform "All's Well that Ends Well." In this funny, wise and bittersweet comedy, Shakespeare paints a sly portrait of the human condition in all its motley coloration. As her reward for curing the King of France of an unsettling affliction, the clever and tenacious Helen receives the hand of Bertram, her heart's desire. Bertram's heart, alas, has other desires. In its panoply of soldiers and clowns, countesses and commoners, "All's Well That Ends Well" connives us into believing that lies are truth and truth fantasy - a darksome fairy-tale replete with mirth, miracles and shades of resurrection.

Ticket prices are $15 for preferred seating and $13 for general seating. Call the Box Office at (304) 367-4240 or order tickets online at

The workshops

In addition to the public performances, the American Shakespeare Center will also present special workshops on aspects of theatrical production. Two of the workshops are open to the public. Admission to the workshops is free and no registration is required.

Both public workshops will be held on Saturday, March 27, in the Wallman Hall Theatre. At 10 a.m., students will receive instruction at the hands of "Rough, Rude & Boisterous" Fight Captain Kelley McKinnon in his legendary and world-renowned workshop: "Them's Fightin' Words: Stage Combat." Students will learn to "physicalize" Renaissance verse into comic scuffles in "All's Well That Ends Well" and "The Knight of the Burning Pestle" and into civil brawls and tragic deaths in "Romeo and Juliet."

The other public workshop, to be held at 11 a.m., is "Law and Order Verona: The Trial of Friar Lawrence." In his final speech in "Romeo and Juliet," the Prince tells us "that never was there a story of more woe" and that "some will be pardoned and some will be punished." But what, the perceptive viewer well may ask, about that shady character, Friar Lawrence? Did his plots and potions steer Juliet and Romeo to their fateful end? The students themselves will comprise the jury.

Photo by Mike Bailey
Ginna Hoben as Helena in "All's Well That Ends Well."

Photo by Mike Bailey
Adian O'Reilly as Merrythought, Kelley McKinnon as Mistress Merrythought and David Zimmerman as Michael in "The Knight of the Burning Pestle."

Photo by Mike Bailey
Brandi Rhome as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet."