Hi, I’m Kitty and I’m the one whose finals interrupted the flow of introductions. (Sorry.) Over the past few weeks, I’ve closed a one-act play festival alongside two professional actors from Los Angeles, written a 12-page paper on autism symptoms in gifted young adults, presented a proposal for my senior exhibition in composite photography, led a guest lecture on education for Deaf students, and sent out another round of emails to potential agents for my new book. So I guess you could say I’m a Jack (or Jill) of all trades.
Unlike most of the other folks here at Upstart, I did not begin my theatrical career with a love of Shakespeare. In fact, when I had to read Romeo and Juliet in the 9th grade, I loathed going to English class every day for a month. The Merchant of Venice the next year was only marginally better, and when a friend from the theatre told me that I should try to act in a Shakespeare play at some point to bolster my resume, I balked. But how will I ever memorize lines in Shakespearean language? I thought. I can barely memorize a monologue!
Fortunately, that year I also landed the role of Gertrude Hamlet in a school play titled I Hate Shakespeare. I helped to act out an abridged, modernized version of the story of Hamlet, in which I mostly just stood around drinking wine while all my loved ones died around me. My best friend, however, played “Lady Mac,” whose arc I found much more interesting. She had several actual Shakespearean monologues mixed in with her modern dialogue, and I was surprised to find that I knew what she was saying most of the time. In my senior year, we read The Scottish Play in a theatre class, and I ended up enthusiastically volunteering to play Lady Mac myself.
In college, one of the first things I did to integrate myself with the campus community was to join the theatre program. I picked up a brochure with audition dates, and what should I see but Measure for Measure by one William Shakespeare? I was apprehensive, of course, but after my experience in high school I figured I’d give it a shot. I ended up with a bit part and only a few lines, but I had such a great time with it that my opinion of Shakespeare had almost completely changed.
It was a few years later, on summer vacation home from college, that in a fit of boredom I decided to audition for Theatre Under The Trees’ production of As You Like It. That production kickstarted my love of not only Shakespeare, but of outdoor theatre. As a Psychology major, one area of theatre that’s always interested me is accessibility – making theatre available to people with all kinds of abilities and disabilities. Whether it’s sign-language interpretation for the Deaf or sensory adaptation for children with Autism, there are many ways to make theatre accessible, and performing outdoors takes care of a lot of these issues naturally. I’ll probably get into it more in a later blog post, but I look forward to working with Upstart Arts to produce accessible theatre in an outdoor setting that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of audiences.
At the risk of going over word count, I’d like to say something about my role in all this: I’m really making it up as I go along. I’m the visual arts guru at the moment (I made that cute lil acorn logo on our t-shirts) and I hope to use my design background to help out with marketing this amazing new venture. Aside from that, though, who knows? I might act, I might serve as an accessibility consultant, I might even put together an outreach program for children with Autism to act with us (basically the ultimate dream). But I look forward to working with Upstart in whatever way I can. Though we be but little, we are fierce – and once we get our name out there, we can continue to do what we do best: Bringing good Shakespeare to the people of York.