by Cymone Sandoval-Hopper
In this day and age, William Shakespeare is often met with either reverence or disdain. Being considered one of the world’s greatest playwrights doesn’t always mean that everyone enjoys long soliloquies and men in tights.
Luckily, the geniuses behind the Reduced Shakespeare Company took one of Shakespeare’s more famous lines – “brevity is the soul of wit” – and applied it to the man’s (rather lengthy) work. They condensed the lump of Shakespeare’s long shows into a single, side-splitting romp that was relatable and entertaining to modern audiences…and all with only three actors.
The Kings Players at Hanford’s Temple Theater has the honor of presenting their fine work as the final show of their season. Sean Hopper and Cymone Sandoval-Hopper had the honor of directing the show, and they chose three wonderful actors to step up to the monumental task of tackling the play: Debbie Walker, Lindsey Surratt, and Adam Mattos.
Hopper chose the show because both he and his wife had been fans for over a decade, having been introduced to the show in high school. “I’d always wanted to be involved with the show, but somehow, could never manage it. When the opportunity came up to direct, I put in for this show because it’s just such a great show,” Hopper says. While the show has been filmed off of London’s West End, Hopper is insistent that this show is not that show. “I wanted it as original as possible – this script is actually a revised one, so there are different parts to it than the original. I wanted the actors to create an original feeling for the show.”
Hopper’s wife and assistant-director Sandoval-Hopper explains: “Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) is such a fun show, and the best part is that you don’t need to know Shakespeare’s plays to have a good time. This script blows through each of the Bard’s shows quickly, turning tragedies into comedies effortlessly. I laugh every night during rehearsals, and I’ve seen it dozens of times by now.”
According to the directors, there’s sword-fighting, cross-dressing, dozens of props, and even a football game in the midst of the show. “Everything you could want at the theatre, of course,” Hopper jokes.
All three of the actors play versions of themselves in the show, but scripted with what the show calls for. One of the actors, Debbie Walker, performed the show previously with the Visalia Players, nearly ten years ago. She plays a different character this time around: “I am having an absolute blast being the ‘scholar’ in this show,” Walker says. Walker’s ‘character’ serves as the academic for the show, explaining Shakespeare’s work with an intellectual’s point of view. “But she often ends up with the other two actors [Surratt and Mattos] cutting in to explain it in layman’s terms,” Hopper explains.
This show has a strong improvisation element to it, which was one of the things the directors stated they were looking for. “Most of the show breaks the fourth wall,” Hopper says, and his wife adds, “Our actors interact with the audience a couple of times. At one point, they even start pulling audience members onstage to help act out parts. It’s a blast.”
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised) can be seen at the Temple Theatre at 514 E. Visalia St., Hanford, on the following dates: November 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, December 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11. All Friday and Saturday performances are evening shows and begin at 7:30 p.m. All Sunday performances are 2 p.m. matinees.
The cost for tickets is $12 online for adults, and $14 at the door; box office opens 30 minutes before show time. You can also get information or make reservations by calling the following number: (559) 584-7241.
You can also purchase your tickets online at kingsplayers.net.