Review Fix chats with playwright Lauretta Pope who discusses his production at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, â€œPuzzle the Will.â€ Breaking down the inspiration for the performance, as well as his goals for the future, Pope lets us know exactly why we should check out the unique Shakespearian production.
For more information on the production and the MITF, click here.
Review Fix: What was the inspirationÂ forÂ this production?
Lauretta Pope: January 2011 was a particularlyÂ difficult time for me, both personally and artistically.Â It was aroundÂ that time thatÂ a dear friend of mine playfully said: you should play Hamlet!Â We both laughed about it, but soon after,Â it was all I could think about.Â I started getting all theseÂ ideas: what if we start at the end of the play and flashback?Â Can we re-arrange scenes, juxtapose scenes?Â Can we take this play that everyone thinks they know and offer instead a chance for audiencesÂ to see it as if they were the firstÂ to do so?Â And since I was gonna play Hamlet, I wanted to offer other actors a chance to dive into roles of the opposite gender.Â It’s not all male or all female; it’s selective gender bending.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Pope: Messy.Â Lots of trial and error.Â Lots of blind faith.Â Lots of daydreaming–it’s always onÂ my mind.Â But that’s what it takes.
Review Fix: What makes you different from other playwrights?
Pope: I’m just an adaptor.Â I’m an actor who is drivenÂ to create fresh interpretations of Shakespeare.
Review Fix: What makes this production special?
Pope: From all the artists involved, there’re palpable feelings ofÂ love for the pieceÂ and passion for the physical work that we’re exploring.Â This isn’t just a gig for them–or for me–it’s a labor of love.Â WeÂ believe that great theatre is about great risk.Â We’re all committed to diving off the cliff; that’s the only way we’ll learn to fly.
Review Fix: How is your cast unique?
Pope: WeÂ have a gender diverse and racially diverse cast. We allÂ have professional training in a very playful, joyful approach to our work.Â I’m very proud to have a cast of artists who truly want to create in an engaging, whole-hearted way.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Pope: All the best things in our creative lives (or in our lives generally)Â are worth fighting for.Â There was neverÂ time to doubt me, or even toy with thoughts of giving up.Â My heart was full.Â This piece made me a fighter.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be a part of this festival?
Pope: Wow!Â We are thrilled.Â There’s no better place for this work than the MITF.Â We know that we can reach out to a broad cross-section of audiences because the Festival is structured to welcome in theatregoers of all types.Â Plus we get to meet and work with other talented groups whose goals in creating theatre most closely align with our own.Â It’s such a vibrant time.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the production?
Pope: We want to present the finest work we can to the most people that we can.Â Of course, we also hope to launch this work to the next level and hope it will be seen by those who can help us realize that dream.Â But to be truly proud of our production–that is the highest honor.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy it the most?
Pope: Everyone!Â Yes!Â If you think you hate Shakespeare or have always loved Shakespeare, our work is forÂ you: our storytelling is crisp, visceral, fun.Â It’s only 90 minutes!Â There’s a sword fight!Â Murder! Clowns!