Actors’ Theatre of Columbus is continuing to bend the Bard in ways even Shakespeare might have found creative.
First up is “William Shakespeare’s Fight Night,” a spoof on professional wrestling, to be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Four S Club, 281 E. Whittier St. in Columbus.
It is the second year for the fundraiser, in which Shakespeare characters – both men and women – vie for the belt, said Jason Speicher, a choreographer and character in the production.
“We’ve gone all out to make it a thing,” Speicher said.
Tickets cost $15 and may be purchased in advance at theactorstheatre.org or at the door.
Petruchio, the male antagonist in “The Taming of the Shrew,” is the reigning champ, Speicher said.
Speicher, 45, said he plays “a certain night watchman” from “Much Ado About Nothing” but wouldn’t reveal any other characters in hopes to build excitement for the show.
He said the actors will recite lines from their respective plays to add an element of humor to the event.
Audience members can place bets on individual wrestlers and vie for prizes.
“It is stage combat,” Speicher said. “It is not real. No one will get hurt. That’s the hope, anyway.”
Actors Theatre, a German Village-based troupe known for its annual summer performances in Schiller Park, also will resume for the third year “Shakespeare Underground,” a periodic recitation of a classic play.
The first performance is at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, in a new space: the Studio at the Kitchen, 237 E. Livingston Ave. in Columbus.
It formerly was held the first Tuesday of every month at Tatoheads Public House, but the Parsons Avenue venue has closed.
All performances will be held the first Monday of each month. Tickets cost $15 and may be purchased on the Actors’ Theatre website or at the door. Food and drinks will be available.
The first play, which is being directed by Speicher, is “Love for Love,” a Restoration comedy written by British playwright William Congreve.
Speicher, who lives in Columbus’ Olde Towne East neighborhood, said the actors are reading from books they are holding and moving around the stage.
“It’s almost like we’re inviting people into a rehearsal,” he said, adding he will ask the audience to participate.
Philip J. Hickman, artistic director for Actors’ Theatre, said he is looking forward to bringing back both events.
“We’re really excited to be able to do ‘William Shakespeare’s Fight Night’ again,” Hickman said. “We thought it would be a fun way of looking at the traditional way of classic theater and let the audience look at it in an unexpected way.
“It worked out even better than we expected, and we worked all year to find a way to bring it back.”
Hickman called “Shakespeare Underground” “one of our more successful little sideline projects where we had a committed audience.”
The group was forced to put it on hold for the summer and look for a new location.
“(Studio at the Kitchen) has turned into a perfect spot to revamp the ‘Underground,’ ” he said. “It’s a great location. It’s a location people are familiar with.”