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University of Lethbridge takes on Titus Andronicus— Shakespeare‘s bloodiest work

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The University of Lethbridge brings William Shakespeare’s bloodiest play to the University Theatre stage, Nov. 5-9.Cole Pryor,  Maya Green and Taran Duncan rehearse a scene from Titus Andronicus. Photo by Richard Amery
 Titus Andronicus features more than two dozen cast members performing an abridged version of the play, which is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

“ Theres a lot of people who die violently and other violent acts,” said director Jay Whitehead, coming off a successful sold out run of Theatre Outré’s  production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

“ This is the first time I’ve directed Shakespeare, I’m more of a contemporary theatre guy,”  Whitehead continued.
 U of L faculty member Justin Blum cuts the original in half with the abridged version.

“ We’ve cut it down to the core. So it will be more accessible to audiences,” he continued, adding, the play has been set in a contemporary, near future world.

“ It’s definitely a tragedy, but we’ve brought out the lighter moments,” Whitehead said.

Titus Andronicus is set during the latter days of the Roman Empire and tells the fictional story of Titus, a general in the Roman army, who is engaged in a cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. It is Shakespeare's bloodiest and most violent work.

“ It’s about a Roman general who returns home after a 10 year war against the Goths. He’s given up power to marry his enemy’s daughter, so his enemy decided to hurt Titus by hurting his daughter,” said Zoe Bracken, who plays Titus Andronicus.


“ His motivation is revenge and his love for his family and honour to his country,” said Bracken, who has never performed in Shakespeare before.
“ But I was in Duchess of Malfi, so the language is similar,” she said.

She was also part of New West Theatre’s production of Girls Like That.

Jon Zimmer and Maya Green rehearse a scene from Titus Andronicus. Photo by Richard Amery
She has enjoyed working with Jay Whitehead.
“ it has been really great working with Jay. He has really let us explore the characters as we see them,” she said.

 Gender roles have been reversed in Titus Andronicus.

“ It’s a gender fluid play. We’ve cast a drag queen, though not in the context of the play. Titus Andronicus is played by a woman, but we don’t hide that. The language is the same,” Whitehead said.

“ It’s been challenge. But the cast have really stepped up and done their homework. They’ve all given 100 per cent,” he continued.
 Tickets are $18 regular, $13 senior and alumni, $12 student. The show begins at7:30 p.m. Nov. 5-9.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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