YORK -- Actors as young as age 9 have spent their entire summer vacations figuring out the Montegues from the Capulets, speculating about Caesar and taming the Shrew, all in preparation for this week's Young Yorkville Players production.
They'll also modernize the scenes, condense them and recite lines in a matter of minutes at McCelvey Center this weekend.
"The Shakespeare Project" will last less than an hour, followed by a 15-minute production of Hamlet and a three-minute encore summarizing the entire show. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, July 18, 19, 25 and 26 and 3 p.m. Sundays, July 20 and 27.
"It's an easy way to get your daily dose of Shakespeare," said Grace Amer, 18, a veteran Young Yorkville Player. "And it's not frilly, so you aren't overwhelmed with the Elizabethan costumes."
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The Shakespeare Project is staged minimally: a portrait of Shakespeare hanging from the curtain, a chair and couch, wrestling ring and of course, a cauldron for the witches.
Costumes are mostly black.
That's so the audience and the players can focus on the words, director Amanda Profitt said at rehearsal Monday.
All 15 cast members have been studying Shakespeare this summer. Amer practices lines between working her day job at the Bush-n-Vine and preparing for her first year at Winthrop University.
"I've always loved Shakespeare, so I'm excited about this production," Amer said.
But Shakespeare wasn't instant leisure reading for Grant Kuczler, who starts fourth grade this fall.
"In the beginning, I didn't know half of what I was saying," said Kuczler, 9, who plays one of four chorus members. He found out early that he should learn what the lines mean before reciting them on stage.
"It was a lot easier then," he said. "I asked when I didn't know what something meant."
The Young Yorkville Players have found other ways to break down the ancient Shakespearean talk, too. Their Romeo and Juliet balcony scene takes place in two living rooms, with cell phones, and The Taming of the Shrew argument is staged in a wrestling ring with a referee.
"Some things you shouldn't tamper with," Amer said about Shakespeare, "but I think this is an exception."
Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children and can be purchased from cast members or at the door. For more information, call the Young Yorkville Players at 980-7412 or visit www.yorkvilleplayers.com.