Theatre performs “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged)”


Black Hills State University Marketing Department

Students Sarah Larcher (left) and Gabriella Hertz (right).

By Megan Hilgemeier

SPEARFISH, S.D. – Black Hills State University Theatre students put on “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged)”  this September in the Black Box Theater. The play is based on a book written by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor in 2018.

The roles were performed by three actresses: Gabriella Hertz (Psychology, Theater, and Speech), Sarah Larcher ( Early Childhood Special Education), and Rachel Larcher (Theater and Biology). Overall, the three girls played a total of 44 characters with Gabriella playing around 16, Sarah playing around 14, and Rachel playing around 14. 

The main point of the play is that while on tour these girls come across Shakespeare’s first ever play. This play has a total of 1,639 characters and takes around 100 hours to put on. Obviously, they didn’t have that time, so Sarah takes it upon herself to cut out many scenes and characters. Much to Gabriella and Rachel’s disappointment, many of their favorite scenes were cut. There are two main characters that we see throughout the whole play. A sprite named Puck, played by Sarah. And a sprite named Ariel played by Rachel. 

After the play, I sat down with the actresses and asked them some questions. I found some amazing things out. First off they originally only had two weeks to memorize the whole play. There were some unforeseen events that pushed the play back, so they had a little more time to practice and memorize. I attended two out of the three plays. Each play was slightly different than the first. This was because a lot of the play relied on audience participation. The first night although it was a smaller group, they were more engaged. The second night it was a lot larger group, but they were more reserved. 

Now, with so many characters it requires one main aspect. You need the audience to be able to tell the difference with each character. This is done in two ways. The first is done by accents. After speaking with the girls it was found out that they were able to create their own accents for each character based on how they felt the character would speak. The second is costume changes. Now, with only having three girls and them needing to be quick changing, that requires two things. The first is only changing small details on each costume. They did this by keeping the same clothes for all the characters, just changing up the accessories. Now comes the second, even with only changing the accessories you will still need some help. That is where Aaron Petra (Graphic design and Psychology) came to the rescue. They were backstage the whole time helping out each character change so they could get back on stage and on cue. 

With all of this work, I must say that it paid off. The show was amazing and I can’t wait for the next one. 

The next play is called “The Odd Couple”. It is being put on Oct. 26-28 at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theater. Students and faculty get in for free, just bring your ID!