Here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we often say that love is the strongest choice. However, love doesn’t always lead us to make the best decisions (just ask Romeo and Juliet). In our current production, As You Like Lit, characters go to great (and hilarious) lengths to make an impression on the objects of their desire. In the words of the jester Touchstone, “We that are true lovers run into strange capers.” We’ve been asking our audience members to submit their own stories of the best, worst, or craziest things they’ve ever done for love, and wow, have we gotten some good ones. A representative sampling:
“At age 12, at a birthday party, sang Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ to first girlfriend in front of crowd. DID NOT GO WELL.”
“Got a tattoo that I regretted.”
“I wrote a one-woman play confessing my love and acting out our whole relationship from meeting to marriage, kids, and eventual death.”
“I performed feats of daring and strength on the elementary school playground to impress her, such as jumping from high playground objects.”
“Pretended to like a sports team.”
“I pretended to be someone I wasn’t: fake name, fake income, fake profession.”
Do you want to reveal your own tale of what you’ve done for love? Join us Thursday at Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Friday at Fainting Goat Brewing Company, or Sunday at Double Barley Brewing for the final weekend of As You Like Lit, where we are all fools for love.
We are lucky to have a guest writer this week: Hymen, the goddess of marriage, who makes a special appearance in our production of As You Like Lit. The play is bursting with characters who are plagued with love woes; can Hymen help them solve their problems? Read on to find out.
I never thought I’d write a letter like this, but here goes. I met a really cute wrestler, and I think I made a good impression on him. But just after our meet-cute, my jerk uncle threw me out of the kingdom. So now I’m wandering the Forest of Arden disguised as a boy, and of course, who do I run into? Yep, the hot wrestler. Do I blow my cover and confess my feelings, or do I keep on letting him think I’m a dude? It’s definitely getting weird.
–Lady Looks Like a Dude
Sometimes you don’t have to make a choice. Keep your cover and continue to flirt with him until you feel the time is right to reveal your true self. Trust me, he’s probably into it.
I have got a real problem. I ran into this cute guy in the woods, but he acts like he wants nothing to do with me. Crazy, right? I mean, I’m adorable. Making matters worse, one of my coworkers (we tend sheep together) is disgustingly in love with me, but I’m just not interested. How do I win over the one I like and get rid of the one I don’t?
Are you sure you’re as cute as you think you are? If the new guy doesn’t want you, there’s really nothing you can do about it. It might not hurt to put your feelings in a letter, but be prepared—it might not go your way. And remember, the guy you want to dismiss has a huge advantage over the one you want to attract: he can stand to be around you.
I’m just a simple country girl, but I recently met a man from the city. He’s a little weird, but his courtly ways are so sophisticated. There’s just one thing: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I don’t get his jokes, which makes me feel dumb. What should I do?
Just smile and nod. He probably doesn’t want you for your mind.
I met this girl; I like her; I’m pretty sure she likes me too. So I came up with what I thought was a foolproof way to win her over: I wrote poems and stuck them in trees. Genius, right? What girl doesn’t like a good poem? And trees? But now everyone is reading my poems and making fun of them. It’s really doing a number on the old self-esteem. How do I get my confidence back?
Plenty of girls like a good poem, but I’ve read yours—they’re atrocious. Wait, I’m supposed to be helping you with your self-esteem. Let me try again. Clearly poetry isn’t your bag, so to build your confidence, try something you’re good at. Ever thought about fighting a lion?
Thanks, Hymen, for helping out our smitten Ardenites. You, too, can seek the good goddess’s counsel at As You Like Lit!
Are you ready to have a drink in the Forest of Arden? In anticipation of the opening of As You Like Lit, the cast reveals what they think their characters would imbibe.
Corin (Aaron Alderman): Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey
Rosalind (Tohry Petty): Gin and tonic
Ganymede (also Tohry): Miller Lite
Touchstone (Mike Raab): Amaretto sour–sweet and sour in equal moderation.
LeBeau (Gabe Terry): Dirty martini
Martext (also Gabe): Scotch on the rocks
Hymen (still Gabe!): Piña colada-tini
Audrey (Jennifer Czechowski): A nice rosé, like the pink one Boone’s Farm makes.
Jaques (Jeremy Fiebig): Isopropyl alcohol
Join us at the Arts Council in Fayetteville, Sports USA on Ft. Bragg, Dirtbag Ales, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Fainting Goat Brewing Company, or Double Barley Brewing to have your own drink while you watch the shenanigans ensue.
When we took Romeo and JuliLIT to Fainting Goat Brewery in Fuquay-Varina, we had such a great time that we had to go back. As You Like LIT will play at Fainting Goat on May 5, and we can’t wait. Owner and business manager Mary Ann Durborrow fills us in on what makes the place special.
1. What sets Fainting Goat apart from other breweries?
Great beers! We’re a small boutique intimate brewery with no wifi or TVs. People actually have to talk to each other.
2. What else would you recommend that people do, see, drink, or eat in Fuquay-Varina?
Take a nice stroll down Main Street stop in all the neat little shops, order in or bring in food from the restaurants we have in town to enjoy with our great beer.
3. Which beers do you recommend?
This is hard as they are all so good in their own way. Our What the Buck American Pale Ale just received an award from The Brewery Traveler as the best American Pale Ale for 2016! Der Hoof Hefeweizen is a true German brewed Hefeweizen which is a favorite as well as our Butthead Brown Ale. When in season, Udder Brother Pecan Maple Porter, Not So Pale Chocolate Ale and Fluffernutter. Every month we have a special released called our Ballet, Bullets and Beer (named for the history of the building) releases, which have proven very tasty.
4. What made you decide to host another Lit performance?
Feedback from our patrons! We like to bring something fun and unique to our brewery for locals to enjoy and experience.
5. What keeps people coming back to Fainting Goat?
Besides our brews, our friendly staff. We are all like family. We work together and hang out (when time allows) together. Any given weekend you can come in and find staff hanging out on their days off.
6. What is the history of Fainting Goat?
Fainting Goat was a dream of my business partner Tim’s. He came back from Iraq in 2009/2010 with a different perspective on life and decided to do two things he always wanted: buy a Harley and learn how to brew beer. In 2013 Tim called me with his idea and dream of opening a brewery. Tim and I met 11 or 12 years ago when his son and my daughter played ice hockey together. He wanted to brew with nothing to do with the business end of things, so this is where I came in. As far as the name, Tim has a condition called laughter induced syncope. When he gets into a real belly laugh, the air in his lungs is expelled, causing him to faint. While in the military (he took deferred retirement back in July to brew full time) during the last night of a two week training mission his unit was, on they were sitting around joking and laughing when Tim fainted and was nicknamed “Fainting Goat.”
We hope you’ll join us as Fainting Goat transforms into the Forest of Arden. Get tickets: https://sweetteashakespeare.com/event/as-you-like-lit/
Though Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s home is in Fayetteville (with frequent jaunts to Dirtbag Ales next door in Hope Mills), we’re excited to be taking Lit on the road. On May 7, we’ll perform As You Like Lit at Double Barley Brewing in Smithfield. So what is this place, and why should you go there? Double Barley’s own Cheryl Lane kindly answered some questions for us.
- What sets Double Barley apart from other breweries?
We specialize in big, bold beers. We have a unique taproom with reclaimed wood and tin from a recycled barn. We sell local art. We have a small kitchen with fresh food, and there’s a beer garden. We have fun events!
- What else would you recommend that people do, see, drink, or eat in Smithfield?
Ava Gardner Museum; outlet malls; downtown independently owed restaurants; Beer, Wine and Shine Trail; Hinnant Winery.
- Which beers do you recommend?
Thrilla in Vanilla Porter, Touche’ IPA, Revelation Pale Ale
- What made you decide to host a Lit performance?
The cool people, and we love fun events.
- What keeps people coming back to Double Barley?
The beer and southern hospitality. We like our regulars more than most of our own families.
- What is the history of Double Barley?
Cheryl gave Larry a homebrew kit for his 40th birthday, and a brewery was born. We opened in October 2013. We are friend and family owned and operated.
Double Barley brewing sounds like a great place to have a beer or three and see an awesome show! We hope to see you in Smithfield on May 7.
Get tickets: https://sweetteashakespeare.com/event/as-you-like-lit/
By Marie Lowe, Associate Artistic Director, Master of Audience and Lit, and director of As You Like LIT
As the newest production in our LIT Series, As You Like LIT, approaches, several people have asked how we develop these shows. Here’s a quick how-to guide:
- Cast it well
2. Cast it well
3. Cast it well
4. Cast it well
5. … did I mention it’s all about the cast? What follows below is an overview of the process, but if you’re short on time, remember these three words: CAST. IT. WELL.
- CHOOSE AND CUT THE SCRIPT
Here at Sweet Tea, our policy is to “light up” a play we’ve performed recently. That way, both the audience and actors will have some reference points. Having done As You Like It last January, it’s relatively fresh in our minds, and hopefully yours, too. Cutting the text down to the essential plot points is a major challenge, as it usually eliminates minor characters and subplots; for example, in HamLIT, we cut out Fortinbras, the crown prince of Norway who assumes the throne at the end of the play, entirely. In Romeo & JuliLIT, we had to lose Romeo’s father. Monologues, even famous ones, are cut down, eliminated entirely, or subjected to shenanigans.
- ADD SHENANIGANS
Once the text has been cut, we find ways to involve the audience in trivia, improvisation, races, and drinking games. We often divide the audience into teams and encourage them to compete against each other. Most of these games will change with each show. In HamLIT, the audience played Charades and a “whodunit” style improv game with the Players. In Romeo & JuliLIT, they played Montagues vs. Capulets Family Feud and raced to revive the Nurse when she collapsed in grief at Juliet’s apparent death. For As You Like LIT, new games will be played in the Forest of Arden. We also have one game that we play in every LIT show, Monologue Mad Libs, in which the audience gets to tart up a famous monologue for one of our actors to deliver.
- ADD MUSIC
Jacob French is the leader, music director, and heart and soul of our band, the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WoCo). He does new acoustic arrangements of every song we use for the season. For a LIT show, we like to use songs that are relevant to the characters and relationships in the play, but we also want to use songs that the audience will know so they can sing along. So, for HamLIT we sang “You Give Love a Bad Name,” by Bon Jovi; for Romeo & JuliLIT we used “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe. The music is such an important part of the LIT experience that we require every cast member to sing and/or play with the band.
- PICK YOUR CAST…
Casting is the single most important part of the LIT process. Not only do these actors have to be able to handle Shakespeare’s language and sing or play with the band, but they have to engage in stage combat and do outrageous choreography, all while playing multiple characters AND making sure that the audience is understanding and enjoying the show. It requires expertise in improvisation, charismatic audience interaction, and a willingness to be fearlessly foolish that many performers lack. The cast makes the show, so cast it well.
- … AND LISTEN TO THEM.
At the start of every rehearsal process, I tell the cast two things:
– I’m not stupid enough to think my idea is always the best one, so
– the answer is always “yes” during rehearsal if you have something you’d like to try (just don’t surprise your scene partners).
Many of our best and most memorable ideas have come out of our rehearsal room, from Gabe asking if The Ghost could do a Star Wars “Hamlet, I am your father” bit complete with light saber, to Jake and Lofton asking “What if Claudius was a hand puppet?” to Tohry whispering, “The drinking game in Romeo & JuliLIT should be Family Feud!”Once you have completed these six easy steps, you too can “light up” one of Shakespeare’s plays—once you also deal with venues and insurance and getting the rights to the music and developing safety rules for the cast and crew and hiring security and passing health inspections and marketing and box office and on and on and on—on second thought, it’s probably easier for you to just buy your tickets for Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s As You Like LIT, opening April 21st. We’ve already done all of those things, and I promise, we cast it VERY well.