BRATTLEBORO >> For their 10th anniversary production, the New England Youth Theatre Alumni present "The Tragedy of Coriolanus" by William Shakespeare, directed by Jessica Gelter.
"The Tragedy of Coriolanus" was Shakespeare's final tragedy, written sometime between 1607 and 1609, during a time of political unrest in England. It is the story of Caius Marcius, who climbs the ladder of power through his military prowess, earning the name of Coriolanus. Though praised by Rome's ruling class, he is reviled by the common people he is sworn to protect. After defeating his chief rival, Aufidius, on the field of battle, Coriolanus is pressured by his friends and mother to take the position of Consul. But bringing his hawkish, uncharitable leadership to an impoverished and starving populous is met with violent rejection. Rome's protector is banished, only to return leading the armies of his formal adversary.
It is a story of breaking the status quo, being pressured to be something you are not. All the characters must fight to break the expectations society has place on their roles.
Sixteen alumni from all across the country will return to the New England Youth Theatre stage to present the production. The cast includes James Gelter as Caius, Alec Silver as Aufidius, Shannon Ward as Volumnia, Colin Hinckley as Menenius, as well as Sophie Bady-Kaye, Anja Alden, Wyndham Maxwell, Maia Gilmour, Dory Hamm, Julia Waldron, Henry Weisel, Clark Glennon, Saskia Bailey-de Bruijn, Kate Maisner, Christopher Diak and Noah Smith. There will be an alumni talk back session after the Saturday matinee.
"We have a strong ensemble. Something amazing about working with the alumni is that we all speak more or less the same language in the rehearsal room," says Gelter. "Because we all grew up learning similar techniques we have an ingrained understanding of how to work together - its like we're a company that has been working together for 10 years. I think one of the best examples of this is our Shakespeare Unrehearsed projects." Each January the Alumni association presents a Shakespearean play, rehearsing and producing the work in just 24 hours.
Founded by Stephen Stearns, who has a PhD in Shakespeare, New England Youth Theatre has emphasized training its actors using Shakespearean text. Through partnerships with Shakespeare and Company and the Birmingham School of Acting, NEYT has brought in leading professionals in the art of performing Shakespeare to teach its summer programs. Directors and coaches like Kevin Coleman, John Epstien, Keely Eastley, and David Vann gave actors a strong foundation in understanding and embodying Shakespeare's text, pulling on raw teenage emotion, experiences, and more to create lively and accessible productions.
Shows are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 NEYT summer program students, $10 students and seniors, $12 adults
Purchase tickets online at neyt.org.