2019 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Performing Arts
Dawn Tucker, founder and Executive Director of the Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival directed William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus this past summer.
Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival’s rendition of Titus Andronicus from their summer 2018 festival continued their tradition of cross-gender casting. This isn’t unusual in Shakespearean plays. In every play FlagShakes play, the cast is at least 50% female. The roles audiences see women play help shape the narratives about what women can do and experience. No longer is woman simply the angel of the house, relegated to the private realm and feelings of nurture and sweetness. In modern narratives women define their goals, achieve them in both public and private, and experience a range of emotions.
Two traditionally masculine roles were transformed into feminine ones. The family’s patriarch, Titus Andronicus, becomes a matriarch. And the rapist Chiron also becomes a woman.
By making Titus a woman, the audience sees a woman as a celebrated war general, a proud citizen, a grieving mother, and a vengeful mother. It isn’t often one sees a woman as a celebrated general, beloved by the soldiers she led and the country she defended.
While there are narratives of women experiencing the desire for revenge, very few have women who sexually assault. And while these actions are condemned in the play as they should be, this play shows a woman who very few stories dare to. The concept itself feels like it violates the definition of womanhood. And that’s what is particularly revolutionary about this play: it demolishes the boundaries of what women can experience.
Another important element of this production was the live score. Sean Golightly did something truly revolutionary in this production, he created a unique and original score for a specific Shakespeare production and performed it live at every show. The music he created underscored the play just like a movie score would by amplifying moments of dramatic intensity, augmenting moments of sadness, and helping the audience follow the sharp turns of the play’s plot. Audience’s always commented on how much the music added to their experience,understanding, and enjoyment of the play.
Raves from the community:
“I saw the opening performance, and this production is not to be missed! Excellent acting, superb direction, and an amazing aesthetic! FlagShakes has put on a production that’s both accessible to a modern audience and relevant to Shakespeare’s vision. Vicky Thompson brings a superb sense of humanity to the title character, Mary Townsend is an amazing and complex Lavinia, the Goths (Amie Bjorklund, Andy Cahoon, and Claira Hart) are multilayered and intriguing, and Gavin Buckley is both amusing and naively wicked as Saturninus. Though this is not one of Shakespeare’s more enduring plays, FlagShakes has made the production both entertaining and delightfully uncomfortable. As an academic, an actor, and a director, I cannot recommend this production enough. Please don’t miss it!”
“Bravo. Every single [actor] shone brighter than the lightning you had to contend with tonight. I’ve been amazed by every single play put on by Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival, but this one… I was physically shaking at the end.”