As some Playmakers actors grow into their teens, they want to sink their theatrical teeth into something more serious, classical — something Shakespearian.
“So, we’ve added ‘Twelfth Night’ to our season,” says Colt Neidhardt, artistic director of the young acting troupe. “This wasn’t something that was planned, and we’re not just giving the kids an artistic and performance experience by doing it. This play is adding multiple applications to their lives, because they’re helping us produce this play.”
The young thespians can now add play promotion and production to their résumés. They not only arranged for the performance space at 19th Street Studios, but advertised the production.
And when “Twelfth Night” opens as Playmakers of Baton Rouge’s Spring Young Professional production on Friday, April 29, audiences will be seeing an industrial version of Shakespeare.
“It’s not a steampunk production,” Executive Director Todd Henry says. “I know people love that term, but we’re calling it an industrial show. It won’t be your typical Playmakers’ show. We’re putting it on in a workhouse with 150 seats, and we’re relying on what we already have to put this show on.”
That includes the individual talents in this cast of 13 youngsters from eight different schools.
“Some are musicians, so we started thinking about how we could use that without relying on things we usually have,” Henry says.
“They’ve collaborated not only as young artists but as peers,” Neidhardt adds. “They’ve dictated the direction of this show instead of us telling them. We felt that this was a wonderful opportunity to give our students a valuable lesson in what it takes to self-produce a piece of entertainment, training them not only on the stage, but also to have strong entrepreneurial and business instincts.”
Playmakers is partnering with the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance in staging “Twelfth Night.”
“Twelfth Night” is among Shakespeare’s most popular works, and many of the cast members performing it are new to Playmakers.
“We’re excited about the new kids coming into Playmakers, and we’re teaching them that this is how theater is produced in the real world,” Neidhardt says. “You don’t always have a stage, and you have to make theater happen wherever you can.
The 19th Street Studios, housed at the Mid City Redevelopment, will be opening its large garage door to welcome the Baton Rouge community to the world of found space performance, the first performance in this new warehouse. ”
Playmakers’ partnership with the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance grew out of the “Common Ground” initiative recently started by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge with the purpose of pairing local arts organizations to pool resources, share ideas and to create new work for the community.
Playmakers also is staging “Twelfth Night” as a way of celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th birthday. The cast began its celebration by hosting a “Talk Like Shakespeare Day” in Galvez Plaza on Sunday.
“This developed out of demand, and we’re planning to do more of it starting next season,” Henry says.