Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Group brings theater outdoors


Lawn chairs and picnic blankets lined the edge of the river at sunset to watch a local theater troupes’ rendition of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” this past weekend at Manderson Landing.

The Rude Mechanicals, a summer theater group composed of University of Alabama students, faculty and members of the community, completed its 10th season this past weekend.

“We love to bring Shakespeare alive because this is the way it was meant to be heard,” Mark Hughs Cobbs, director of “Twelfth Night,” said. “It’s not supposed to be just read, which is the way most people do it in their English departments.”

The Rude Mechanicals began in 2003 with Andre LaSalle, a graduate directing student in the theater department, who directed the troupes’ first production of “Twelfth Night” on the Ferguson Center promenade. It was supposed to be a one-time performance, but the group decided to continue the tradition.

Mark Cobb and UA theater professor Steve Burch have headed the shows for the last eight years, along with a mix of students and the Tuscaloosa community.

“There has always been returners like me who come back year after year and some people come back every once in a while,” Cobb said. “Every year it’s just a little bit different. I think that’s what makes it so great.”

The group does not charge admission but asks for donations at the end of every show.

“We all get together over the summer and play Shakespeare for the fun of it,” Cobb said. “We don’t make any money off of it, just enough to pay our expenses and take us out to eat.”

The Rude Mechanicals truly embody Shakespeare’s method of performance with their use of minimal props and costumes. They let his words do the majority of the talking.

“‘Twelfth Night’ is my favorite Shakespeare comedy because it has a mix of everything,” Cobb said. “It has some body humor and witty humor, some words that are just beautiful, weird and funny and the mistaken identities and love.”

This summer was Jill Smith’s first season with the Rude Mechanicals; Smith is a graduate student earning her MFA in creative writing at Alabama. She played Viola, a woman pretending to be a man.

“I love the language, first of all,” Smith said. “I think there are a lot of beautiful speeches in it, and I also really like the comedy and the idea of a mistaken identity. I think that’s a lot of fun to do.”

Another newcomer, Lawson Daves, a senior majoring in vocal performance, enjoys the hilarity of “Twelfth Night” and enjoys Rude Mechanicals’ sense of family within the cast.

“It’s one of the most fun theater troupes I’ve ever worked with,” Daves said. “Everyone’s like family, it’s really cool. There’s a certain sense of camaraderie.”

With hopes of continuing the Shakespeare tradition on the river, Rude Mechanicals deemed this year’s season a success.

“I don’t think people get it when it’s just flat on the page like that,” Cobb said. “So we try to bring it alive so people understand what’s so great about it.”

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