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Shakespeare as It Was Meant to Be Played Right Here in Chicago

Last night, I experienced an amazingly cool piece of theatre that was unlike anything I had ever seen. I attended the Backroom Shakespeare Project’s production of Julius Caesar. It was one of those moments that fill you with artistic vigor and makes you want to go out and grab the world by the horns.

The mission of the Backroom Shakespeare Project is to put Shakespeare’s plays into a context where they feel at home. As such, they perform the plays in the back of a bar without lights or sets. They encourage people to come and go as they need to and keep their phones on. And text if they need to! Waitresses move through the action bringing beer and burgers to the hungry groundlings and the actors adjust for them rather than the other way around. What’s more, the company rehearses in a style more similar to that of Shakespeare’s actors than is the standard today. There is no director, one rehearsal to figure out fights, entrances, and exits, and someone remains on book during the performance in case one of the actors forgets a line. But, worry not, they serve the text with as much gravitas as it deserves and the ultimate effect is a performance that sucks the audience in and includes them in the world of Shakespeare as much as he would have wanted. What really struck me was the community of people there. They were from all age groups and seemed to be of varied interests and professions. But they came for the unifying experience of theatre and the performers told the tragic story of Caesar and Brutus with absolute class. I felt at times like I was at The Globe in London because of the energy and humor and honesty that were constant throughout the play. That’s what theatre is all about: honesty, community, excitement, and acceptance. There was no judgment, only welcoming energy and that made it a truly memorable experience.

Their next production will be As You Like It on the 5th of May. I’m not quite sure where it will be held but check out their website to find out more about how you can experience this wonderful theatrical event. You will not regret it!

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

I’ve been feeling a little down lately with this persisting cold weather. I’m just SO ready for spring and the warmth and reinvigoration that come with it. But here’s one of the songs I like to drink deeply from when I’m feeling blue or just pining for the sunshine.