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Students explore Shakespeares “Titus Andronicus”

William Shakespeares vicious and grisly play Titus Andronicus premieres at USF on Feb. 21, 2013 as part of the USF School of Theatre and Dances British International Theatre Program, also known as the BRIT program, which brings in theater professionals and specialists to work with students.

The play centers around Roman soldier Titus, who dedicates his life to the Roman army. Tamora, Queen of the Goths, seeks revenge against Titus, who sacrificesTamoras eldest son in an attempt to avenge his own sons death.

The cast has been in rehearsals since early January in preparation for Titus, some lasting 10 hours.

Ryke Stearns, a senior majoring in theater performance who is acting in the lead role of Titus Andronicus in theproduction, said the role is one he has long coveted.

When I was in the eighth grade I had to read a bunch of Shakespeare and(Titus) was one of the two of his that Iabsolutely loved, he said. Honestly its a dream role of mine so Im really excited to do it.

The play, which was written in the 16th century, contained much language as most Shakespearean plays do to which the cast had to adjust.

We really had to work on our diction and articulation, how we sound, making sure that we actually understand what were saying because the text is so dense, Laydelis Piloto, a theaterperformance and women and gender studies major who is acting as Tamora in the show, said.

Taking apart the thick text wasessential for the cast members totruly understand what they are trying toconvey to their audience.

I feel like along with the text beingdifficult to grasp for us, the challenge is again allowing the audience tounderstand even if they dont understand every word they need to understand the gist, theater performance major David Dasilma, who plays the role of Aaron, said.

Helen Tennison, the director forTitus, is visiting for the 2012-13season as a part of the BRIT program.

Tennison, who has directed plays such as Sense and Sensibility and been nominated forBest Director by the Off West End Awards for the 2010 tour ofBreakfast with Emma, has been injecting the play with genuinecharm, bringing students a unique experience in learning Titus.

She has a way with working with the text and with Shakespeare text is a huge deal and she just makes it come out so easily, Stearns said. Her style of directing is great but really its her imagination that I love about her and its been a pleasure working with her for sure.

While having such a distinguished guest may have beenintimidating for the cast, her passion and professionalism gave the cast a newenergy for theirupcoming show.

Theres an energy that she brings into our rehearsals, she doesnt need to do anything its just her presence. And thats what she tries to teach us to have, Dasilma said. She just doesnt tell you what to do, you discover ityourself and thatempowers you as anactor, especially moving into the professional world.

The production will be a moremodern take on the classic play, and while the performers did not want to give too much away, Dasilma said it isuniversally contemporary.

The play, which is notorious for its gore, highlights issues ofsociety that wererelatable to the cast of the play.

Theres so much blood and gore and things in the play that are very prominent in thissociety, Piloto said.People just kind of put up this wall like Oh, it doesnt happen, that would never happen to me. Theres a rape scene (in the play). Thats such a prominent issue in todays society and people just kind of put it on the back burner. The audience will see this, will watch the play, and be so horrified that they will want to change the world we live in.

Titus Andronicus will run from Feb. 21 to March 3 in Theater II. Students can purchase tickets in advance online or over the phone for $8, or the night of the show at the theater for $10.