Kill Shakespeare: fan fiction like you haven’t seen before

Described by director Mark Vetsch as, “a live action graphic novel,” Kill Shakespeare is a bit of an enigma. Based on Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col’s graphic novel, Kill Shakespeare, this incarnation of the show will put the images from the graphic novel up on the Garneau’s screen while Thou Art Here Theatre‘s troupe performs all of the voices and sound effects corresponding to each frame live. Thou Art Here is also joined by musician Erik Mortimer, who scores the performance. Showing only on April 11 (at 11:30 p.m.), it’s a one-of-a-kind event for Edmonton’s theatre and fantasy communities.

The graphic novel itself takes Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, and puts them all in the same universe on a quest to find Shakespeare and steal his quill, which gives the holder the ability to re-write reality. Mark says, “I think that Kill Shakespeare is kind of like Into the Woods, where you’ve got all of the classic characters that everybody knows and is familiar with and who are put into this big hodge-podge of plot. You get to see the classic character archetypes that Shakespeare created dealing with different situations that you never thought they’d be in… Don’t think of it as someone trying to wreck Shakespeare’s work, but rather as an homage to all of the great things that he came up with. [It’s] a reorganization of ideas and seeing where the characters could go.”

If this sounds familiar, maybe you caught Thou Art Here’s staged reading of part of Kill Shakespeare at last year’s Edmonton Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. If you did though, Mark says not only is the production scaled up in terms of it being a full production, but there will also be, “some elements of audience interaction that the show in the summer didn’t have…When we were trying to create some of the audience interaction we’re putting into the show, like if anyone has gone to The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Garneau, there’s lots of different audience cues… We have a plan to get the audience in on the action and making some of the sound effects and yelling at the screen but in a way that everyone will know what to do.”

The main idea Mark hopes audiences will get out of it is a continuation of what’s come out of Thou Art Here’s other shows, Mark says. “Shakespeare can be so, so many different things and that it can be really accessible. Part of this show and part of Thou Art Here’s work is allowing people to engage with Shakespeare in a way that’s not just sitting in the quiet theatre and wondering what just happened. ”

Those who know Thou Art Here’s previous work (check out some of my previous reviews and interviews), know that the troupe typically performs Shakespeare’s text as written, but in a way that relates with the found space the text is performed in. Mark says Kill Shakespeare was a chance for the troupe to push their boundaries. “I think with Thou Art Here, we often do straight Shakespeare, very much classical text and use the space to inspire how we’re going to do the production… With Kill Shakespeare, it’s different in that we knew what our space was going to be and we knew we wouldn’t be interacting with it in the same way. We also knew we weren’t going to be doing something that’s classically Shakespearean. Although the text is Shakespearean in style, it’s much more modern than what we’re used to doing.”

Kill Shakespeare happens April 11 at 11:30 p.m. at the Garneau Theatre. Tickets are $20 through the Metro Cinema.

PS – wear your best Shakespearean costume and enter the costume contest for a chance to win prizes from Thou Art Here Theatre.

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