For the past year, Maggie Seymour ’16 and Olivia Atwood ’17 have been working on their two-woman show, “15 Villainous Fools,” as part of Seymour’s honors project. This weekend, the duo will fill Memorial Hall with laughter as they take on fifteen different characters in their own rendition of William Shakespeare’s classic “Comedy of Errors.”   

“Basically we took the script and cut bits, added bits, rearranged bits, fooled with it, messed with it, played with it and created our own show that involves two women,” said Seymour. “Devising a piece in the way that we did is hard; it’s challenging, it’s time consuming, more so than just picking a play and doing it straight.”

After watching the Shakespearean classic during her fall semester abroad, Seymour fell in love with clowning. Already a fan of Shakespeare, Seymour knew that she wanted to combine her two interests into this project.

Knowing she wanted to work with a partner, Seymour sought out Atwood, who she met in an improvisation class they both took last spring. 

“[Seymour] has great energy, and so I decided I definitely wanted to be a part of whatever she was cooking up,” said Atwood. “We were both nervous when we realized the full extent of what we were going to be doing, but I think we took it on well and really tackled it.”

Seymour works both on the stage and backstage in this project.

“Our set is very bare. Our costumes are what worked best for us,” said Seymour. “Our lighting is just that the lights are on. It’s very simple. It’s very barebones. That was kind of, not the objective, but always the plan because the play itself is so big that everything else didn’t need to be.”

For an hour and fifteen minutes, Seymour and Atwood take a minimalist approach and let their clowning take center stage.

“Having fun, playing with the audience, making eye contact and breaking the fourth wall is sort of what clowning is, and being able to add that to Shakespeare I think changes it completely,” said Atwood. “Clowning really allows you to make a connection to the audience, which you might not be able to make through other forms of theater.”

Aware of most people’s reactions to Shakespeare and even clowning, Seymour and Atwood worked particularly hard to make both accessible for everyone.

“We created it for an audience, very much so. I’m really excited for an audience to see it because it’s for them,” said Seymour. “I’m really excited to play and have fun and relish in the joy and play of clowning, Shakespeare and the project and for people to have a chance to connect with Shakespeare in a new way.”

“15 Villainous Fools” will run tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial 601.
Olivia Atwood is an Associate Editor of the Orient.