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Renegade Theatre Experiment Presents Titus Andronicus

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2007-01-14 23:31:05     
Gabriel J. Adams

Out of the shadowy underworld of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs rides the Romans' greatest warrior! Mighty Titus Andronicus comes roaring to the stage in Renegade Theatre Experiment's production of Shakespeare's darkest and goriest play. Though first performed 415 years ago, Titus Andronicus is often thought of as Shakespeare's "Tarantino" play, a youthful, populist gore-fest delighting in shock value. But it also remains a searing tragedy of the wages of sin. With a startling modern-dress production, RTE suggests that Titus Andronicus can, and perhaps does, happen today in biker clubhouses.

Titus director and RTE founding member Peter Canavese describes "a tale of the unpleasant extremities of human conduct: the surprising lengths to which we will go to protect pride, honor, and family; the bottomless capacity for cruelty and violence; and, in our production, the seductive and horrible possibilities of a willfully immoral lifestyle." At first Canavese wasn't sure about setting the play in the world of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. "When it comes to Shakespeare, I'm basically a traditionalist, and believe conceptual meddling should be held to well-reasoned, strongly justified visions. So when artistic director Sean Murphy approached me with the concept of doing Titus Andronicus with bikers, I was skeptical. But I agreed to think about it, and soon agreed to direct the play in this vein. Arguably, the world of OMGs (Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs) is the only realistic modern North American idiom in which to place Shakespeare's most outrageous play."

Citing the 2006 expose Angles of Death: Inside the Biker Gang's Crime Empire, Canavese draws direct lines between Shakespeare's action and documented biker crimes: "Gang, racial, and domestic violence (including rape) are commonplace, and the rigid, proud hierarchy of OMGs dare not be questioned. The gangs are fiercely territorial, and each club has a sergeant-at-arms. Two seemingly outlandish crimes in Shakespeare's text--beheadings and tongue severings--have been carried out by avenging Hell's Angels."

The hogs will roar and the blood will flow when Titus Andronicus previews on January 25th, and runs January 26th through February 10th at the Historic Hoover Theater in San Jose. Performances begin at 8:00pm, except Sunday matinees which are at 2pm. Tickets for Titus Andronicus are $18.00 General Admission (Thursdays and Sundays) and $20.00 General Admission (Fridays and Saturdays). Students and teachers, seniors, and Theatre Bay Area members qualify for discount tickets ($13.00 Thu/Sun & $15.00 Fri/Sat) with valid ID. Tickets and season subscriptions are on sale at Renegade Theatre Experiment's website and at the door.

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