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The best of the Bard: College of the Siskiyous performs Shakespeare online

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
A scene from "King Lear" performed on Zoom during the COS production "Shakespeare's Greatest Hits."

The show must go on, even in the time of COVID. 

Last week, an intrepid group of College of the Siskiyous theater students put on a show in the most untraditional of ways – live, online on Zoom. “Shakespeare's Greatest Hits" was performed for the public Friday and Saturday night, with special performances for high school groups twice earlier in the week. 

Sitting at home watching a live play I came away impressed with the way the actors put aside the unusual circumstances and went to work bringing the words of the Bard to life. 

"Shakespeare's Greatest Hits" is a revue of sorts, with the cast performing scenes from seven Shakespeare plays. 

Directed by COS theatre instructor Kitty Keim, “Shakespeare's Greatest Hits" featured scenes from "King Lear," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Henry IV, Part One," "Twelfth Night," "As You Like It," "Measure for Measure," "Love's Labour's Lost," and "Othello." 

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The actors performed fully costumed, behind a computer-generated green screen background, be it a castle or a country meadow. All the actors, besides two who are roommates, performed their scenes separated from their fellow actors in their own room. Despite that, actors Archer Strelow, Brynn Witherell, Caity Liming, Jonathan Gravish, Miranda Strain, Riley Witherell, Selena Johnson, Tessance McGill  and Ty Speck did a nice job conversing with one another and making connections.

I felt this intimate way of performing, where you see the actors up close, added to the production. The majority of the actors did a solid job of bringing Shakespeare's words to life. 

COS students also composed the musical accompaniment for the production, which was played between scenes and set the mood for the evening. I liked that before each scene a banner came on screen to introduce the actors, the cast of characters and give a brief synopsis of the scene.

Kudos to everyone involved, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, for their ingenuity in making the production a reality.

From the tragedy of King Lear to the comedy of Viola and Olivia in Twelfth Night, the words of Shakespeare were a joy and comfort to watch, especially during this difficult time. 

Overall, I was glad to have had an enjoyable evening of watching a live performance, without ever stepping into the theatre. When things eventually improve it will be nice to watch a performance live. But for the time being, this was a creative alternative.