shakespeareances.comCaricature of Shakespeare



Maryland Shakespeare Festival

Actors Play without a Safety Net
In Shakespearean Bare Bard Repertory

Maryland Shakespeare Festival logoMaryland Shakespeare Festival's actors will deliberately “expose” themselves in their upcoming Bare Bard Repertory, and they invite audiences to see them at their most vulnerable. From June 7 through June 23, Maryland Shakespeare Festival will stage its Bare Bard Repertory, an offering of three Shakespeare plays presented in rotation: Comedy of Errors, Richard III, and The Merchant of Venice. Performances will be at Goucher College in Towson, on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. After all Sunday performances, audiences are invited to stay for a talk-back with the cast.

Maryland Shakespeare Festival actors will tackle this trio of plays with only three days of rehearsal for each play. This would normally be an actor's worst nightmare, but not for the MSF actors, who thrive on the adrenaline rush of performing without a net.

Highly improvisational and interactive, Maryland Shakespeare Festival's Bare Bard Repertory borrows production techniques from the original practices of Shakespeare's own acting companies. The actors learn their lines for each show in advance, get together briefly to choreograph dances, stage fights, and physical comedy, and run lines. Then the actors jump on stage and perform for a live audience without any pre-established staging.

“The pitfall of a well-rehearsed play is that actors fall back on doing what they have done before, like parrots,” says company member Stephen Lorne Williams. “In a Bare Bard production, we use that edge of danger to bring the story to life.” It also brings a depth to the work and an understanding of the language to its audiences .The actors also engage the audience with direct eye contact, questions, and sometimes an invitation to join in a dance or enter a crowd scene.

MSF's actors have been performing and training together in the Bare Bard style for six years.

Tickets are $22 for regular admission and $18 for students and seniors. Visit for more information—including a full performance schedule and directions to the Dunnock Theatre—and to purchase tickets.

May 9, 2013

If you have Shakespearean news to share, e-mail