‘Complete Works’ takes shape

Students tackle the first play

When you think Shakespeare, you typically flash back to sophomore year of high school when you SparkNoted a sonnet to ensure an inkling of understanding. For the most part, rapping and “Macho Man” Randy Savage don’t come to mind. But at Los Medanos College, these pop culture references are what you’re in for if you go see “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” on Sept. 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. in the Little Theater.

Director John Dunn says the purpose of the show is to perform every Shakespearian play in less than two hours. The flow on stage is fast with multiple characters played by each actor and hasty costume changes throughout. Outrageous jokes hold the audience’s attention; Dunn says the play can be enjoyed by anyone, “It’s good for Shakespeare lovers and it’s good for people that hate Shakespeare because it definitely makes fun of his works.”

The entire show is acted, directed, and engineered by five students. Ariel McIntyre, Robert Dunn and Konnor Heredia are playing all of Shakespeare’s major characters with direction from John Dunn, while Stephanie Lutz engineers the stage lighting. The show was selected when the director and Robert Dunn shared an interest in the play before reaching out to other students.

Since the summer, the play has been in production with no auditions taking place. The actors and director collectively decided to take the project on themselves, with the approval of drama department chair Nick Garcia who occasionally gives his opinion on production technicalities.

“This is the kind of show where you just need four people who are absolutely dedicated to doing nothing but the show,” said Robert Dunn.

Shakespeare certainly has a sense of humor, but not to the same degree that the actors who perform “The Complete Works” hold in this version of his compositions. Dunn, who plays all female roles in the play, explains he relates most closely with his overall character, “My character is truthfully as much of an idiot as I am. It’s written as someone who screams a lot for no reason; that’s who I actually am in real life.”

During one of their rehearsals, he pulled his shirt over his head to expose his bare stomach. The director nodded his head and said, “Yeah, that’s Robert. I think he just made a ‘Game of Thrones’ reference.”

At one point, McIntyre and Dunn were screaming at each other in exaggerated, throaty Scottish accents while performing a scene out of “Macbeth.”

But that scene only scratches the surface of the show’s comedy routines. The freedom to ad lib had a big effect on the show and the actors.

“If I had a favorite part in the show it would be the pro-wrestling bit in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ because I’m a big pro-wrestling fan,” said Heredia.

Robert Dunn added, “We knew we were going to be Benvolio and Samson, just in pro-wrestling style. It just eventually turned into us actually being Hulk Hogan and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage.”

When asked how he wants the audience to feel on the way home after the show, John Dunn said, “The words I want them to think are: that was a trip.”