Do I have to read? Can I just listen?
You don't have to do a blesséd thing! Come and listen, come and read, come and listen and decide halfway through Act 1 that you do want to read*, come and read and decide halfway through Act 1 you'd rather just listen; anything and everything goes. If you're entering and someone's double-cast, they'll throw you a part. If you want to leave, someone'll pick it up! (This goes for shorter absences too, like if you happen to notice your scones are on fire** or if you have a child at home right now and they do something exciting. If it's minorly exciting we'll happily hold for you. If it's majorly exciting, someone will pick up your part until you come back from whatever small apocalypse you're now responsible for.)
* provided there are parts still open. This is usually the case, however we did fully cast Much Ado About Nothing down to the Peanuts save for two doubled parts, so I can't in good faith promise anything (unless we're doing a History or Antony and Cleopatra).
** not that that's... ever happened to anyone here...
I have no acting experience and/or don't know the play... can I still read?
Absolutely! In fact, we're delighted you're joining us; it takes a lot of courage to jump into the unknown, whether that unknown be text that can be difficult even when you're not reading it for the first time or an entirely new endeavour. Rest assured that everyone in attendance will be welcoming and supportive even if you can't pronounce "honorificabilitudinitatibus" on your first (or second, or third...) try.
No-one is here to critique your delivery or your comfort with the language; and if someone does, you can rest assured that they'll soon be finding out why the Artistic Director's handle is "a bear".
Huzzah! ...can I go for any of the roles?
You can! An important part of the ethos of this company is that Shakespeare is for everyone, and that enthusiasm for and connection to the characters and the words they speak are what's most important. Thus, when we cast, we do it irrespective of everything but that. If your grandfather, who has never set foot on stage in his life, has always understood and felt for Ophelia and wants to speak for her, we want that too.
If you've ever been told you can't play a role you love because of your age, your gender or expression thereof, your body type, the color of your skin, your place of origin, &c, we're here to tell you you can, and not only that, we're so excited to hear you do it.
Wait, you said I could go for anyone, what's this Dream Role thing that's stopping me?
Dream Roles are explained in more detail over here!
What's a Peanut?
"Peanut" is short for "Packing Peanut", our affectionate term for unnamed roles (Gentleman, Messenger, Citizen, &c) and named roles with fewer than 100 lines or so. For less popular plays or very large plays they are given to the "Peanut Peerage"—the group of readers who ask to be randomly assigned a handful of these roles. It's become a very popular choice!
And what's with the beagle?
That's Willie, our first Managing Director's pup! He was our unofficial fifth cast member for the initial performance of Twelfth Night, and happily volunteered his voice in enough other productions to become somewhat of a mascot even without the auspicious name.
In other animal news, the King of France in our first production of King Lear was played by a very vocal cat.
(We're not joking about everyone being players.)
Is your query yet unanswered? Send us a line!
Glossary of Terms
(Compiled by Brianne and the Bear)
14NP: Shorthand for 14th Night Players.
9 o’clock: It’s always 9 in Romeo and Juliet; extrapolated to the whole of Verona.
Achievements: Purely cosmetic accolades earned for accomplishments such as playing two characters that speak to each other for an awkwardly long amount of time (Meta Soliloquy), playing two characters in some sort of romantic/sexual relationship with each other (Ménage à Moi), singing or playing an instrument on mic (The Food of Love), &c.
Animal Conspiracy: Theory that suggests that Shakespeare is actually a snake, thus explaining the Mackers/chicken thing (see "Mackers").
Apple Cart Crash: The moment, and the brief chaos that inevitably follows, when our various scripts disagree on what scene it is, who's meant to be saying that line, and if there even is a line there. Named for the moment in many action film sequences when a market stand of some sort is smashed into at speed and its wares fly everywhere.
Bear, the: Colloquial name for the Stage Manager/Artistic Director.
BY GAR!: An Achievement, and reference to The Merry Wives of Windsor, made famous because its repeating throughout the play caused the first time an actor dissolved into uncontrollable laughter on mic. Not a reference to the truly terrifying fish.
Cross-dressing or faking death: The two most common solutions to problems in Shakespeare. It is the opinion of the dramaturg that cross-dressing is a better idea.
Cycle: One complete read through the canon. Begins with Twelfth Night, ends with The Winter's Tale, and takes about ten weeks.
Dark Week: The week after a Cycle finishes during which the Bear hibernates and Nothing Official Occurs.
Davy: The pure boy who sometimes acts in our plays. (Is not a real boy, is actually just one of Ophelia’s voices, but he’s real in our hearts).
Disputed France/Disputed King of France: Title of our eminent dramaturg, from a joke about Henry VI being the disputed King of France. So long as the title is disputed, the title remains. Typically allied with the Peanut Queen.
Disputed Kingdoms: Only allowed in #general
Dolphin of Dramaturgy: The title of #dramaturgy’s most eminent heir, Jay. From a pun on dauphin/dolphin.
Falstaff’s School of Maths: From Falstaff's ever expanding number of brigands in Henry IV Part 1; attended by characters who make conclusions based on a misrepresentation of the size or number of something.
Friar Lawrence: Considered omnipresent after his startling appearance in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Widely considered terrifying and likely to murder you for the sake of a convoluted plot. The Bear persists in defending him and thinks he's 'doing his best'.
Footnotes: The dearest love of dramaturgy. Cite your sources!
Fs in chat for...: A request to pay ones respects by typing/emoting an 'F' in the channel, a la this meme.
Gloucester: Always seems to suffers immensely in Shakespeare. Name-giver for Gloucestergate (the achievement given for experiencing technical problems such that the same line need be repeated three or more times). The Dolphin of Dramaturgy suggested that tech problems require a Gloucester being sacrificed to solve.
Gloucester Protection Program (GPP): The program that protects Lord and Lady Gloucesters from death, wherein they hide when they are “killed off stage.”
Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, and our unit for measuring ones total lines read with the Company (1 Hamlet = 1506 lines).
Hamlet Foley: When you spill something all over the place; named so because every time we do Hamlet, someone invariably does this while attempting to make a good sound effect.
Heir: 2nd in command of a group; Ophelia is the current Peanut Heir (or "Tsarina Arakhys").
Hotspur: From Henry IV part 1; our metric for impatience/exuberance/generally BEING IN ALL CAPS. 20% Hotspur is the recommended amount of Hotspur (#dramaturgy accepts up to 50%).
I'll Be Brief: Cue for subsequent explanation to be unbelievably long winded; notably used by Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet and requested of Egeon in Comedy of Errors.
Kid on slide gif: Indicates a character (usually Peanut) is leaving. Part of the Company now.
Mackers: Our moniker for "The Scottish Play", lifted from Slings and Arrows. There is an Animal Conspiracy that it is about chickens/eggs.
Midnight: Via Mackers; it’s always midnight in Scotland.
One Flesh: The colloquial term for two people using the same mic during a reading.
Outrageous Fortune (OF): The Bear's pearlescent pink twenty-sided die that makes most of the executive decisions here. Referred to as being responsible for any act of random chance related to company matters. Named after a line in Hamlet's "To be, or not to be..." soliloquy.
Peanuts: (see FAQ above)
Peanut Peerage: Those Players who request to play Peanuts during the play.
Peanut Queen: Her Royal Majesty, Emilyn, who rules over the Peanut Peerage and sorts and assigns Peanuts to them, and for whose efforts we are continually grateful.
Pericles’ School of Medicine: A reference to the propensity in Pericles, Prince of Tyre for our title character to assume people are dead when they’re merely asleep/unconscious; attended by characters who also cannot properly determine the difference.
Player: A member of the Company; you become one the moment you join a reading.
Rectangle of Sincerity: Used to ironically describe a massive block of prose. (Ben's working theory is that prose is used when the character is hiding something.)
Spare: 3rd in command of a group; Rachel is currently #dramaturgy’s Spare.
Shakerags, Notable: A (mostly affectionate) nickname for Shakepeare, from Will Kemp’s not-as-affectionate reference to him (see Will Kemp)
Shakespeare's School of Geography: Takes its name from The Bard's shaky command of the subject (Vienna is in Italy and Bohemia has a coast); attended by those with equal skills.
Shakespeare's Actor Employment Initiative: Plays with a truly fantastic number of Peanuts are part of this.
Stay for Strike: What you have to do if you're late for Tech without telling the Stage Manager that you're going to be. There's not actually anything to strike, so it just means posting a .gif of someone sweeping in one of the Theatre channels.
Sunnet: A sonnet in which every line ends with sun, causing the rhyme scheme to be AAAA AAAA AAAA AA, which is fitting, as it's often how one feels about the scheme. Reference to a poem being composed in Edward III in which NINE LINES IN A ROW end with the word "sun".
Tea: One of four always acceptable reasons to be late to Tech, and perennially cited by the Bear. The others are children, pets, and Feelings.
Tents: A reference to Troilus and Cressida, wherein the soldiers stop fighting and go to each other’s… tents. A reference to solving one’s problems through love not war, and also generally a euphemism for gay tomfoolery.
Timon: (of Athens). Hides out in a cave and throws gold at people. Frequently appears in anti-Capitalist/Materialist conversations. Has become especially beloved.
Tsarina Arakhys: Title of the current Peanut Heir.
United Nut Nations: The Peanut Queen’s Kingdom, allied with Disputed France (disputedly)
Weïrd Week: The week after Dark Week; filled with offbeat daily events such as Improv Cardenio, actually rehearsing (?!) scenes and monologues and presenting them to each other, timed sonnet writing challenges, Show and Tell, and TEDx 14NP. Named for the reality and convention defying Weïrd Sisters of Mackers.
What's A Clock: A typical joke referring to a) the tendency in Shakespeare plays for someone to ask something along these lines, b) an anachronistic use of clocks in a play and c) the personal ability of neither Shakespeare nor a Player to know how linear time works.
Will Kemp: The original Bottom and Falstaff. Left Shakes’ troupe to go on A 9 DAY 130 MILE MORRIS DANCE possibly powered by sheer spite. Called Shakes and Co "Shakerags" and "witles beetle-brains".
Yeah-Chaste/Dang-Frigid: Coined during Weïrd Week's Monologue Madlibs. A segment of Polonius's blessing to Laertes in Hamlet: "...not express'd in fancy; (_positive adjective_), not (_snide version of that adjective_);" Someone suggested "chaste" for the first. A small kerfuffle over whether or not "chaste" was a positive adjective led to it becoming "yeah-chaste" to establish we meant the positive connotations. "Dang-frigid" quickly followed.