Complete and unabridged: Leicester students announce non-stop Shakespeare Marathon
Today is, of course, St George’s Day, and also Shakespeare’s birthday, so an appropriate date to formally announce the launch of the University of Leicester Shakespearathon. In June, our student DramaSoc LUTheatre will present the Bard’s complete works in one massive, non-stop performance. The sonnets, the poems and all 39 and a bit plays.*
The production will commence with the epic poem Venus and Adonis at 7.00am on Monday 18 June and is expected to wrap up sometime on Friday afternoon with The Two Noble Kinsmen and, as a final flourish, Shakespeare’s last will and testament. The running order is based on the Oxford Shakespeare but with a few tweaks so that the three parts of Henry VI are in numerical order and the two parts of Henry IV likewise.
This may sound like a strange idea but it has been done before. LUTheatre staged their first Shakespearathon back in 2000 so not only do we know it can be done but we also have some idea of how long it will take. That said, the production will be outside, so the weather may play a part. And it will run through each night, so if you have ever wanted to squint at a bunch of indistinct figures reading Troilus and Cressida in pitch blackness (and possibly, pouring rain), now’s your chance!
There are about 1,200 parts available in the entire folio so LUTheatre are looking outside their own ranks for participants: any University of Leicester students or staff who fancy being one of the several poor players strutting and fretting during the week are welcome to apply – for specific roles or just whatever is available. Learning lines is optional but will score the actor extra kudos; although obviously this is more impressive if someone is playing Othello than if they are carrying a spear and only have to say “That it is, my lord.”
Twelve years ago, two students performed in every play, by judicious casting which put them into Act 1 Scene 1 of something and then the final scene of the subsequent play, thus allowing a few hours’ kip inbetween. This year, 15 actors have thrown their hats into the ring for a complete set of credits: the Rutland and Stamford Mercury recently ran a piece on Stephanie Collins, one of the brave souls who has been cast as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew.
The entire performance will be open to the public so if you fancy seeing some Shakespeare for free, come along to the campus. You can pick your play(s) from the schedule or just drop by any time and sample a random burst of Bard. This is also a chance to see some of the rarely performed plays, although it would take a brave soul (with a large flask of coffee) to sit through three and a half hours of Cymbelline in the small hours of the morning.
As well as providing a unique opportunity for participants, the University of Leicester 2012 Bardathon will be a fund-raising event for our Cardiovascular Research Centre Appeal through sponsorship of individual performers and of complete plays. Corporate sponsors are particulary welcome.
We will announce further developments in the preparation of this epic event on Newsblog nearer the time.
*The ‘bit’ is Shakespeare’s contribution to the multi-authored Sir Thomas More. He is believed to have written about three pages of it.