Austin Shakespeare: putting the pieces together

Editor’s note: we are once again proud to feature the perspective of an organization that makes the Long Center its performance home. This time from Ann Ciccolella, Artistic Director at Austin Shakespeare, one of our new Resident Companies. Austin Shakespeare is staging Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice in our Rollins Studio Theatre November 7-25.

Bit by bit we are putting our new ‘Pride and Prejudice’ together. Actors, designers and crew love working on this new adaptation but it is challenging. Like a carousel, the show goes round every few minutes to a new situation and a new group of characters… including dances and music. Our chorographer Toni Bravo, who can be elegant even in her high-heeled boots, takes the actors step by elegant step.

I love the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, so I am hearing his song in my head “Bit by bit, putting it together.”

Actors know their lines but that is only the beginning of their work as they begin to work on the Rollins stage. I ask the perennial directorial question: “What do you want from him or her?” and “What if you wanted to tease him so he would smile?”

That “what if” is the key to most of our creative action. What if that wall were bluer? What if that hat had a feather? That is the nature of our work: to try. Jane Austen brings out the best in us. We stretch to do great writers justice, and they lift our work with their great imagination.

This week we added more music cues that we have acquired from the original production by Joe Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan. But our actors are from Austin – even if one came last year from Los Angeles and another came six months ago from NYC. This production is original to Austin. We are so fortunate to have our resident lighting designer, Jason Amato turn down other more lucrative projects to work on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with us. His light design will be as delightfully rhythmic as Austen’s language.

Also this week we shot a short trailer for You Tube with Michael Dalmon, and our Elizabeth and Darcy had their first media outing with KOOP Radio “Off Stage and On the Air,” plus we talked with John Aielli on KUT. KXAN-TV for Friday…. Money, time and people. The three elements of any project. In theater, we are always tight on all three. But the people are the best part. They give their all. Actors, designers, technicians and crew. We have a fabulous resident Equity stage manager, Shannon Richey who keeps me in check on not over taxing anyone and everyone.

All in all, we are lucky to have this amazing collection of talent and inspiration…YOU are the final element we need as we ‘put it all together!’

–Ann Ciccolella, Artistic Director
Austin Shakespeare

Austin Shakespeare’s “Pride & Prejudice’ is playing at the Long Center’s Riollins Studio Theatre November 7-25. Visit the Austin Shakespeare site for tickets.

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