OUR WORKING DEFINITION OF “ORIGINAL PRACTICE”
Shakespeare’s players were an interesting bunch.
For starters, none of them had a complete copy of the script. Instead, they used “cue scripts,” consisting only of their cues and their lines. This meant they had to listen extremely carefully to each other in order to perform their parts. On top of that, their rehearsal process was unbelievably short – in fact, some people believe they didn’t rehearse at all!
Also, they had no director, no designers, and no “concept.” Instead, the actors directed themselves, brought their own costumes and props, and relied on the sun to light them. As a result, the plays they performed were probably nothing like what you’ll see at any other more traditional theater company. In Elizabethan times, Shakespeare’s plays probably had anachronistic costumes and music, constant audience interaction, and a lot of improvisation.
In the spirit of these original practices, the Grassroots Shakespeare Company was born to explore the text of Shakespeare’s plays by performing them under similar conditions. We use cue scripts, we use the sun, we improvise, and we bring our own costumes and props. What you’ll see, if you come to one of our shows, is a vibrant, high-energy performance of some beautiful language and fun music, probably in a grassy, sunlit park.
ABOUT TOURING COMPANIES
When Shakespeare’s acting company kicked off, the Globe Theatre hadn’t been built yet. Instead, the actors travelled from town to town performing their repertoire. Performing in town centres, village halls, and inn yards across England, early Elizabethan acting troupes found audiences wherever they could. Even after their theatre in London was complete, frequent outbreaks of plague often sent the troupe packing on impromptu countryside tours.
In some ways, our summer tour approximates this Elizabethan touring company – we use a lightweight portable set, a small group of actors playing multiple roles, and public open-air venues where all are welcome.
No Director: Actors stage the show themselves.
No Costumer: Actors bring their own costumes.
No Lighting Designer: Actors play to a visible audience.
No Tech Week: Only a few days for rehearsal.
No Fourth Wall: The audience is part of the play.
No Concept: The story tells itself.