to create together
Kelli Holsopple 99 (with Rachel Lapp 95)
Kelli Holsopple 99 is every bit a 21st century woman, but
part of her life is spent in a 17th century world. Holsopple is
part of Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, an internationally known
theater company that performs William Shakespeares works in
their original staging conditions.
Holsopple became an instant fan of the troupe when she attended
a company production as a first-year student at GC. When her contract
ended with CLIMB, an educational theater company in Minneapolis,
Minn., last spring, she decided to audition for the internationally
known theater company that performs William Shakespeares works
in their original staging conditions. Holsopple flew to New York
for the last open call audition of the season, and was invited to
the final callback the following day, which also included all of
the actors SSE had auditioned throughout the past year.
All the directors for the six shows that would make up two different
troupes of actors met with 60 hopefuls. The group gathered in a
circle, then each actor bounced to the middle to deliver their
10 lines of Shakespeare in the round and sing, play
guitar, sax, flute anything we wanted to show off,
With all the clapping, laughing and supportive atmosphere,
I knew that SSE truly believed in theater as a community event.
It was the best audition Ive ever experienced, unlike many
where the directors call the actors in one at a time to perform
their monologues, she continued.
Holsopple was cast in the blush and swoon troupe
as Celia, in As You Like It; Peter, in Romeo and Juliet; and Perdita
and Mamilius in The Winters Tale.
The new actors went through a baptism by fire. They arrived June
1, 2001, with lines for all the shows memorized and paraphrased,
ready for the so-called Renaissance Run which
SSE believes mimics the rapid production process undertaken by the
Bards original company.
A video camera is set up, the director arrives with a notebook
in hand and the company performs the play off-book [without scripts],
start to finish, said Holsopple. We did a Ren
run the first day of each rehearsal process for all three
plays we did this year. Its always stressful, always a blast.
It was a great feeling to actually perform the play memorized, and
then know we had a month to rehearse it.
The company scheduled its first performance of As You Like It in
North Carolina on Sept. 11. Holsopple said that many of the cast
members felt that offering the comedy might feel petty
almost disrespectful in light of such a grave tragedy. The
school that booked the event, however, wanted the show to go on.
performed to a receptive crowd who gave us a standing ovation. Many
of them thanked us for giving them the gift of a lively, joy-filled
performance, Holsopple said. I was reminded of the importance
of theater as a time and place where people are gathered peacefully
to create together what a wonderful response to destruction!
A highlight of the year was performing for three months at Blackfriars
Playhouse in Staunton, Va. SSEs first-ever, newly constructed
home. The playhouse is the only replica of Shakespeares
indoor theater, The Blackfriars.
Said Holsopple, It was brilliant to go to work every day in
the most beautiful theater Ive seen, as well as not having
to load and unload anything!
Through the SSE experience, she worked with a unique acting style.
SSE believes Shakespeare did not write with a fourth
wall in mind, Holsopple said. In our shows, we
bring the audience along by talking directly to them making
them co-conspirators, confidants and other characters. This added
a whole new, fun dimension to Shakespeare. It was so exciting to
interact in that way.
Though engaged in professional theater since graduating from college,
working with SSE brought Holsopple into contact with many recent
graduates of theater programs and graduate schools. While envying
the breadth and focus of classes such as movement, technique
and dance that her colleagues took at conservatory programs,
working with SSE also confirmed my gratitude for what I received
at Goshen that is uniquely Goshen.
She explained that because Goshens program is small in size,
she gained experience in all areas of theater; in addition to acting,
Holsopple gained experience in costume and light design for main
stage shows, which made her a good addition to SSEs self-supporting
Also, SSE is looking for nice people, Holsopple said.
I was in a group of other fairly relaxed, nice people and
the company says our group is the nicest group theyve ever
had. Being nice goes a long way. Living and working together is
intense ... so it is extremely important to be able to communicate
She continued, I am so grateful to Goshen for the conflict
mediation I participated in and the communication skills I received.
People in the group have come to me for advice on how to confront
problems with other people. I dont wear a sign that says conflict
mediator, but I know my Goshen education helped me become
a more sensitive, straightforward person and somehow people pick
up on that.
In the fall, Holsopple will return to the place where her SSE odyssey
began, but for new opportunities; she plans to move to New York
City to pursue theater acting and education.
While a student, Kelli was the first and only GC actor to get to
the semifinal rounds of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition at the
American College Theater Festival, in which the theater department