Understanding the Bard

MARSHALL – Signs, sight gags, plenty of humor and a lot of energy is going into this year’s Shakespeare in the Park show.

The Marshall Area Stage Company is presenting its Shakespeare in the Park production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 15-16, and 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, in the Liberty Park bandshell. The show is being directed by Brian-Paco Bertrand-Cyr.

Bertrand-Cyr said his whole goal with the show is “understanding Shakespeare.”

“Old becoming new again; the joy of play,” he said.

When he wrote, William Shakespeare was an actor himself, Bertrand-Cyr said, and was a master of language.

“He was more practical in the experience of theater and play…” Bertrand-Cyr said. “The goal was to put on a show and make people laugh on all different levels.” And that included the lords and ladies to those who had to stand to see the show, he said.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost” was very timely humor when Shakespeare wrote it, Bertrand-Cyr said, using a lot of jokes and wordplay in it to bring out the slapstick.

“(It’s) playing up a lot of the jokes, the energy you can get from the language exchange,” Bertrand-Cyr said. There’s that same sharp language in today’s situation comedies, like “The Big Bang Theory,” he said, where characters will go after each other, using a turn of phrases. “The play has a lot of turning language on each other.”

“This is a lyrical play, lots of rhymes and beats and rhythms,” Bertrand-Cyr added.

In the MASC production, there’s several signs being used to tell who the characters are and what the actions are in a funny way, Bertrand-Cyr said.

Anna Eben, who portrays Costard, said she wasn’t going to audition for the show at first.

“(But Brian said) ‘I really want you to be in my show,'” Eben said.

The actors said that Shakespeare’s work can be relatable to modern times. Eben said she used some of that to develop her character, who is a comic figure in the show.

“I have a little bit of the humor from Sheldon Cooper (from “Big Bang Theory”) and Barney Stinson (from “How I Met Your Mother”),” Eben said.

And the situations in “Love’s Labour’s Lost” can be understood by today’s audiences as well, the actors said.

“It’s all about mixed signals,” said Alex Pikala, who plays Berwone.

“It’s wanting a lady, and she doesn’t want you back,” said Jessa Roberts, who portrays Rosaline.

“(It’s where) you make a vow, and you don’t want to keep it, so why bother making it,” Pikala added.

“Sometimes young people are foolish when it comes to love, and they aren’t straight-forward,” said Jacob Greathouse, who portrays Boyet.

Greathouse took on a bigger role a few weeks into rehearsal and said it’s been going well. He added that he’s read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Romeo and Juliet,” so he was familiar with the language of Shakespeare.

“I kind of like the story,” Greathouse said about “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” even though he’s never read it before. “Some of the parts of the play are really funny. I get to play a dirty old man, so it’s really fun.”