taking the stage
The Hidden Theater: A secretive Austin gem that's going global
As Master of Company and Theatrical Deviser Beth Burns put it, “The Hidden Room Theater is a Theatrical Curiosity Shop specializing in Original Practices classics, technologically forward-thinking works, intriguing new plays, and rarely-done oddities.” The company, critically acclaimed for its media jumping cross-Atlantic theatrical event You Don’t Know Him He Lives in Texas/You Don’t Know Her She Lives in London, will be bringing all of these diverse specialties together in this season’s production of Rose Rage.
Hidden Room has been making waves in the modern world of Shakespeare by going old school. Their recent Original Practice production of Taming of the Shrew had a historically accurate all male cast, period Elizabethan dress and stayed true to the minimalist staging of Shakespeare’s time. The company is not lost in the past, however, evidenced by a recent Kickstarter campaign which harnessed the power of the internet to take the company to the Blackfriar’s Conference at the Shakespeare Center to present the work to some of the world's most renowned Shakespeare scholars. This trip was a big success for Hidden Room Theater, solidifying their place on the international stage.
Rose Rage is a new cutting of Shakespeare’s Henry VI parts 1-3, the chronicle of personalities and conflicts in the medieval British civil wars known as the War of the Roses. The adaptation was created by Edward Hall, the son of famed theater director Sir Peter Hall, and an acclaimed director in his own right having directed at such London jewels as The Hampstead Theater, where he is currently the artistic director, and the Royal Court. The Hidden Room Theater will be the first company not affiliated with Edward Hall to tackle this ambitious adaptation.
This production will also mark the premiere of Hidden Theater’s Foreign Actor Exchange Program, where they have invited some of their British friends to cross the pond to perform with them. Building on the knowledge they gained producing You Don’t Know Him . . ., the company will rehearse simultaneously on two continents via Skype. They will be working with London based actors from Hall’s Propeller, Punchdrunk and Shakespeare’s Globe Theaters. They will be rehearsing the production via Skype until about one week before the show opens when the London crew will come to Texas and be incorporated live in person.
This is certainly a technologically forward thinking approach to theatrical work, and opens new doors for international collaboration. As we move ever more rapidly into the cloud of virtual reality, it is interesting to see what visionary companies like Hidden Room Theater are doing to make connections. Their technological savvy is helping build new ways for artists across the globe to collaborate yet their devotion to faithful recreation of theatrical classics is producing intimate and personal productions which belie the cyber prowess that went into their creation.
If you have not yet found the Hidden Room, this season is a great time to check them out. They will open the year in February with a world premiere of Invisible, Inc., a noir play about fueding magicians in 1930's New York, which promises to be an immersive event full of magic and mystery. Not to miss, however, is the pivotal production of Rose Rage set for the summer of 2012.