Live theater has returned to Meridian High School with the first spring play since the grand opening of Meridian and the new school building. This year’s spring play is the “Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”
“We’re doing the complete works of Shakespeare, abridged and revised, which is not what you would think of as Shakespeare normally,” said Shawn Northrip, a film and theater teacher at Meridian and director of the play. “It was originally written by the Reduced Shakespeare Company where their premise was to condense all 37 plays down into 90 minutes. You can imagine 37 three hour plays condensed down to 90 minutes doesn’t necessarily give a lot of each play and there are some plays that get a little more time than others, such as Romeo and Juliet. The whole show is predicated on the premise that these people are making it up as they’re going so it has a very off the cuff feel.”
Northrip has directed 20 plays on the “main stage” at MHS and around 100 class projects and theater competitions during his time with the school.
According to their website, The Reduced Shakespeare Company is a “three-man comedy troupe that takes long, serious subjects and reduces them to short, sharp comedies.”
This production was originally set to come on stage in 2020 but due to the pandemic it had to be saved for a later date. In 2021, instead of a play, the theater made a movie and a socially distanced play on stage so this is one of the first times performing like “normal” again for the students.
“When we came back, we were all really excited to be in person again because theater is a live experience,” shared Northrip. “It’s about community, it’s about engaging with people in real life. It’s about hearing their tears and hearing them laugh, which you don’t get with a film.”
The year began with the musical “tick, tick… BOOM!” which Northrip described as a more emotional play, while Shakespere will bring more comedy to have some balance with the selections for the year.
“In the age of Covid, I think we all really want to get together and have a good laugh again,” he shared.
The inclusion of 37 plays will also allow for a large group of students to participate and have a chance to shine on stage.
Northrip promises the play won’t be like any Shakespeare the audience has seen before from the shortened versions of the play, to modern pop culture references and more!
“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” takes place this weekend with performances Thursday, March 31, Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2. All performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. The show is roughly 90 minutes.. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for general admission. Meridian High School is located at 121 Mustang Alley in Falls Church.