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When no practice makes perfect

| Denise Olson

In theater, remaining true to the script is essential.

Laura Schlichting, a senior theatre arts major, has just concluded a research and creative activity project that takes “true to the script” to a new level.

Shakespeare Unrehearsed

With the help of assistant professor Arthur Grothe and a dozen fellow theater students and alumni, Laura prepared and on Feb. 6, presented a night of “Unrehearsed Shakespeare” in Riverside Theatre.

“Unrehearsed Shakespeare” is a performance method that does exactly what it says— presents Shakespeare without rehearsal.

This unique method of production became a passion of Schlichting’s after attending a workshop on campus under Bill Kincaid of Western Illinois University in 2015.

The concept is meant to recreate these familiar works in ways much more in keeping with how the plays were staged and viewed by Elizabethan audiences.

“Looking at original performance schedules of theatres in Shakespeare’s day, there is no time set aside for rehearsal; shows simply begin appearing in the schedule,” says Kincaid. “It is assumed that these shows were originally performed with little or no rehearsal. The actors receive scrolls, with only their lines and their cues on them, and learn and study only their own role.”

Schlichting quickly became fascinated by the process, researched the method and language of the plays, and began working with Grothe to stage a night of Shakespeare scenes using this method on the UW-Eau Claire campus.

“The performance itself consisted of scenes from six of Shakespeare's plays that all revolve around the idea of love gone wrong,” Schlichting says. “The students had no idea who their scene partners were going to be and did not rehearse any of these scenes; no lines were memorized and they all used the scrolls onstage.”

Undergraduate research that allows students to collaborate with faculty is a priority at UW-Eau Claire.  Schlichting’s project was an innovative way to gain that kind of faculty-student experience.

“As a student, I'm still learning and still growing and having faculty assistance was essential to making this a success,” Schlichting says. “It was great to learn from an educator about how to teach my fellow students for this particular research project.

“The best part about collaborating with Arthur Grothe on this project is that he was always there to point out some things that I might have missed, and to really be a support system while I finished by research and set up this performance.”

Large photo caption: UW-Eau Claire theatre students Jocelyn Bold (holding script), Clara Kennedy, Barry Inman and Devon Caelwearts on the ground.

Group photo: From the left, front row: Laura Schlichting, Dana Strothenke, Zach Klein, Jocelyn Bold, Mariah Sands and Devon Caelwearts. Back row: Sean Porten (alumni), James Frelich (alumni), Clara Kennedy, Jake Pritchard, Michael Schermann, Barry Inman