What is it about Shakespeare that keeps us coming back for more? We already know the plays and we've definitely already heard the lines, yet we continue to find the works of William Shakespeare of perennial relevance.
In 2010, actor Cheryl Bradley, among others, explored this lasting relevance by devising a new work for the Adelaide Fringe Festival titled Shakespeare on Love – an amalgamation play of some of the Bard's most famous love scenes and sonnets. Three years later, Bradley has formed the first classical theatre company in the state; the South Australia Shakespeare Company (SASC). Its' inaugural show will be a reinvigoration of the sell-out, Shakespeare on Love.
The inauguration of SASC marks the beginning of a new chapter for theatre in South Australia. "I want to build a company that creates working opportunities for local SA artists – actors, dancers, musicians and crew" says Bradley. "I was inspired to establish a Shakespeare Company in South Australia because there really isn't a definitive place for classical theatre in this city currently. We have two internationally acclaimed Modern Dance Companies, a State Theatre Company, and a State Opera Company; but no Classical Theatre Company."
With a career spanning 25 years as a professional actor, dancer, and lecturer in Shakespeare, Shakespeare on Love will mark Bradley's directorial debut. As an actor, Bradley graduated from The Centre of Performing Arts in Adelaide, and has since performed in a score of Shakespearean plays: Twelfth Night (Olivia), A Midsummer Nights Dream (Titania), The Tempest (Ariel), The Merchant of Venice (Jessica), and Macbeth. More recently, Bradley travelled to Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts as a continuation of her prior Shakespeare training with Fiona Shaw (Royal Shakespeare Company), and Bell Shakespeare. In 2012, Bradley received an Arts SA Grant for Directing which enabled her to undergo the mentorship of seasoned director, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight, throughout the duration of the Shakespeare on Love rehearsal process.
Bradley's experience as an actor in the original cast of Shakespeare on Love has also provided her with many layers of perspective on approaching the text and rehearsal process. "I was curious to revisit the play as a director to see what more I could bring to the production" says Bradley, "I wanted to revisit these relationships again, to explore them from the fresh perspective of a director, but also bringing the depth of research that I had already done on the piece as an actor. I already knew the characters from an 'inside' perspective, and therefore I felt that I could more accurately understand the characters and their reactions."
It is to be noted, however, that Bradley's 2013 production is a reinvigoration of the original production with omissions and inclusions based on her work with her actors Tim Overton and Anna Cheney, recent acting graduates of Adelaide College of the Arts. Bradley states that, "While our production does have it’s own life in the context of our new location, the question at the beginning of the adaption remains the same – what is love?" Bradley's strong theatre background, with its particular focus on Shakespeare, seems to have instilled in her a strong desire for "the quality of the performance to be a priority, coming from a strong understanding of the text and language."
The historical and picturesque Carclew House Gardens will be the location for the 80-minute traffic of Bradley's stage, chosen for its romantic and surprisingly intimate setting. "Carclew is a beautiful property in the heart Adelaide, so it is a very accessible location for audiences. It has a lovely outdoor lawn area in front," as well as a convenient Juliet balcony for the famous star-crossed lovers scene. Carclew House Gardens is also apparently a popular location used for weddings. Clearly, an appropriate setting for a play based on love!
When asked what her vision was for the future of SASC, Bradley explained that she pictures "a company that delivers quality robust productions of classical theatre that are both accessible for audiences and also entertaining."
The prospects for South Australian theatre is exciting – Bradley has started what could only be described as the beginning of a new chapter for South Australian Theatre. Shakespeare on Love marks the first installation of much more to come.
So, make sure you are there to see South Australian theatre history in the making.
Shakespeare on Love
Directed by Cheryl Bradley
Starring Anna Cheney, Sara Lange, and Tim Overton
The Lawns of Carclew House
11 Jeffcott Street
North Adelaide, South Australia 5006
January 22nd – February 8th at 8pm
Booking at www.trybooking.com/39745, or contact Renee Gentle on 0404 937 366 for more information.