Culture yourselves this weekend!!!
This semester, the King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe, better known by their acronym KCST, is putting on one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest works, Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare scholars Julia Goodman and Maud Rozee met with the production’s dramaturg, Jo Chiang, to discuss the show. Titus Andronicus will be in the Glicker-Milstein Theater this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are free and can be reserved in advance at the TIC.
Bwog: What’s the play about?
JC: Titus Andronicus is, first and foremost, in its original interpretation, a revenge play—or arguably, a satire on revenge plays. It can be argued that Shakespeare was making fun of the revenge plays of his time by making this revenge play so sensational. Someone kills someone that’s the family member of someone else, that person gets mad, and there’s a lot of killing and things in between to make up for it, and in the end everyone dies. So, that’s kind of the story. But there’s a lot of nuance about institutional violence, and there’s racism, and misogyny. There’s things besides just killing, and that’s what we’re trying to highlight.
Bwog: How did you choose this show?
JC: Every single year KCST has an advisory board meeting before the next semester—so in this case, it was last semester—where people present proposals for plays they want to do, their reasons why, and their vision. Sometimes they have people who are going to do design to come up with, like, “Here’s our aesthetic vision.” So Becca [Meyer, the show’s director] proposed Titus Andronicus. I was actually on the advisory board. You have to do two shows before you can be on the advisory board, but after that everyone’s welcome to sit in there. So I was in attendance to discuss it and decide. The general climate was that everyone realized how relevant this play was to this campus at this time, because it deals with sexual assault. Not just sexual assault, but the aftermath of sexual assault, the way women’s voices and stories are silenced or ignored, and the role that greater institutions play in perpetuating environments where these kinds of violences occur and legitimizing them. Because we found that so relevant, we thought this was a great way of showing that we can combine both politics and art. Sometimes people perceive theater as existing in a vacuum and we wanted to challenge that. So we almost unanimously decided on this play.
Bwog: Can you talk a little bit about what Becca’s vision was and how she presented it that got everyone in KCST behind the idea?
JC: It was tying it to current events, basically. One of the draws was that historically, Titus Andronicus has not been well received, so that’s part of the challenge as well. People either love it or they hate it. It is incredibly bloody, it’s very sensational. A lot of people think it’s overblown, over the top, and impossible to do well. Definitely in Shakespeare’s time, people just could not stand it. It’s part of that challenge, to take a play that is quite obscure, and not one of his major canonical works, and present it in front of an audience. And hopefully it can resonate.
Read about how KCST is relating the play to current events on campus after the jump…