Swords are being dulled and the wardrobe colors for the House of York and the House of Lancaster have been selected. UTSA’s “Drama Through Performance” class is in the final stages before its debut of “Richard III.”
At the end of every semester, the student actors of “Drama Through Performance” perform a free rendition of a play. Previous performances have included “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Cyrano de Bergerac.” This year, director Lynn Oliver has selected “Richard III” for the fall 2011 performance.
This is Oliver’s first year serving as instructor and director, and comes to UTSA after establishing a career as a professional actor and singer. So far, the transition of having a new director has been a positive experience.
“Lynn takes what we do and immortalizes it. She makes us really feel deep inside of our bones what’s going on with our characters,” explains Armando Urdiales, who plays Buckingham, Richard’s right-hand man.
To prepare for his role, Urdiales has taken to Oliver’s technique of writing down his lines until he knows them, as well as relying on a phone app called Scene Partner, which helps him practice his dialogue.
Senior Stephen Young, who is leading the cast as the sinister Richard III, has watched other renditions of the play and has read several biographies on Richard in the months leading up to the performance. To play off of Richard’s disfigurements, Young’s costume has had a hump sewn on to the back. “Hopefully we won’t make you laugh. We don’t want you to laugh,” Young says.
Urdiales encourages the audience to remain attentive to what is being said. “Expect to listen to the vernacular. That’s where everything is, that’s what Shakespeare is. Listen to what’s going on, because everything is in the words.”
The production promises a lot of “whoa” moments that often stem from murder, and at one point, a severed head. “It’s something that UTSA has not seen before. It’s very dark,” Urdiales states. “Expect it to be dark, but expect it to be enlightening.”
Dencia Baltimore, who plays Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King Edward IV, feels that it’s going to be the best play that “Drama Through Performance” has produced so far. “I feel like, come next week, everything will be boom-boom-boom solid,” Baltimore says.
“Our principle characters—I’m not worried about them at all—they are amazing. Stephen is amazing, Armando is fabulous. We have it. I really think we have it.”
This is the first time the production will be held at UTSA’s Downtown Campus at the Buena Vista Theater. The productions have been performed in lecture halls and on sound stages in semesters past, so the cast is thrilled to finally be able to deliver a performance on a stage that is meant for actors on which to perform plays on.
“Richard III” will have two showings; the first performance will be at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, and the second performance will be at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12. The event is free and everyone is invited to attend.