Much ado about Impromptu Shakespeare involves, entertains Bard-loving spectators

Impromptu Shakespeare


Impromptu Shakespeare
Photo by: Isaac Iniguez

About a dozen students gathered in the amphitheater next to Christ the King chapel to watch and participate in a battle of emotion, drama and in-character acting known as Impromptu Shakespeare on sunny Sept. 13. 

The concept? Two teams of performers act out a scene, using only the Bard’s written word and their own creativity. After each team performs the chosen scene, the audience votes by applause, determining which group wins that round.  

Thus, two pairs formed. Team Shakespeare’s Beard consisted of Matt Hennig, freshman, and Elizabeth Williams, sophomore. Team Shakespeare’s Moustache sported senior Mike Hanlon, who orchestrated the event, and Collette Joyce, freshman. Both groups, using their best theater skills, presented scenes from two plays.  

To put the “prompt” in “Impromptu Shakespeare,” the actors had approximately one minute to read over the script and agree on how to stage and perform it. Hanlon asked audience members to choose randomly from four pre-selected scripts, and the actors performed the one chosen. 

“In those informal settings, you can unleash your creativity,” said Williams, who is pursuing a minor in theater.  

Partly in shade and partly in bright sunshine, the thespians first presented Hamlet’s famous “to be or not to be” speech, their passionate voices echoing off the amphitheater wall of the chapel. When both teams finished, the audience’s applause signified Team Beard as the winner of round one. 

Next up came a comedic scene from “Much Ado About Nothing” in which Beatrice tests Benedick’s love by asking him to kill his close friend Claudio. Pacing back and forth across the cracked pavement, the performers delivered their lines, enticing chuckles from the crowd.  

Once finished, Team Beard was announced the winner of round two and thus of the event. Hanlon awarded Hennig and Williams certificates, signed in pencil, that detailed the duo’s newfound bragging rights. 

“It’s so fun,” said Williams, after performing as Ophelia and Beatrice. “That’s where you can hone your skills and practice, because you don’t have any time to actually practice.” 

“I actually really enjoyed it,” said junior Briana Gonzalez, one of the audience members. “You could tell that the actors got into their roles, and it wasn’t cheesy at all. I always love seeing all the different ways that Shakespeare can be interpreted.” 

Hanlon said he hopes to use the amphitheater again before winter. Students should keep an eye out for fliers announcing the next Impromptu Shakespeare event.