Reduxion Theatre Company will commemorate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday with a fun celebration for all ages. With a wine tasting for the adults, a special performance of Professor Spillsby Digs into Shakespeare for the kids and cake and live music for everyone, the party will be a community experience.
“We wanted to celebrate [Shakespeare’s] birthday with our neighborhood, supporters and patrons,” said Tyler Woods, Reduxion Theatre’s executive/artistic director.
The 6:30 p.m. performance is part of the theater’s original series Classics for Kids, which started in July. Classics focuses on Professor Spillsby, played by Elizabeth Brooks, who loves teaching Shakespeare. According to Managing Director Erin Woods, the idea was to introduce kids to the idea of Shakespeare and teach them that his work can be fun, silly and exhilarating.
Along with Erin and Tyler Woods and the theater board, Brooks, the main playwright and director, envisioned the series as appealing to a broad base of children. The younger kids will be entranced by the visual elements of the costumes and the sets, while the older kids can glimpse a sneak peak of what they’ll be learning soon in school.
In Professor Spillsby Digs into Shakespeare, Spillsby meets a small acting troupe called The Juggling Fiends that finds him kind of boring and shows him how to enjoy the entertainment aspects of the classic works. The Juggling Fiends are Falstaff, played by Sue Ellen Reiman; Touchstone, played by Brett Young; Dogberry, played by Jessa Schinske; and a puppet named Moth. Together with Spillsby, the Fiends put on scenes from Macbeth with toy swords and avant-garde settings. In the style of Shakespeare, the script favors direct address and audience interaction.
“There is nothing else out there like this,” Erin Woods said.
Another production might be cut down or use simplified language, but Classics for Kids was developed to make traditional Shakespeare accessible to a younger audience. The series tours at different locations in the Metropolitan Library System.
At the birthday celebration, the nonprofit theater will kick of its spring fundraising drive, offering Shakespeare birthday favors to donors. The favors include a swag-bag full of season pins, a collection of 2013-2014 posters, a Henry V poster signed by the cast and a Reduxion Theatre Company t-shirt or a walk-on role in a performance.