In his independent study for theater, Bari Robinson '07 explores William Shakespeare's juiciest characters: the bad guys.

Taking scenes and monologues from five different Shakespeare plays, Robinson creates a unique collection for his own play, "Shakespeare's Villains."

"Villains are the most psychologically interesting to play," Robinson said. "He doesn't necessarily know he's a villain. He might take perverse joy in being villainous, but always feels justified in his cause."

"You have to play the character as if it's absolutely true," Robinson continued. "If he wants to sabotage something, he has to have a reason in his head."

The five villains that Robinson portrays come from "King Lear," "Othello," "Titus Andronicus," Richard III," and "Macbeth." Students who have theater experience play the other characters in the scenes that Robinson chose, including Cait Hylan '09 as Lady Macbeth, Jamil Sylvester-John '09 as Othello, and Emily Goodridge '09 as Lady Anne, to name a few. The show debuts today in Wish Theater at 7 p.m., and will run again at the same time on Saturday.

Robinson developed his independent study with help from his advisor, Associate Professor of Theater Davis Robinson, after studying Shakespeare in London during the 2005 fall semester and cultivating his own interest in the playwright.

While in London, Robinson took a class in scene work for Shakespeare. The class presented scenes throughout the semester, and that coursework provided an outline for what Robinson wanted to create in his independent study.

"Being able to convey Shakespeare to an audience not familiar with his work is the most enjoyable," Robinson said. "There's so much there to take from him."

"Nobody knows anything about Shakespeare anymore," he continued. "I wanted to go back to the root of where people got ideas, and there's something gratifying about conveying that information to people. If you're in theater, you need to know why Shakespeare's so important today."

Robinson's independent study strays from theatrical conventions because his play travels to different parts of the campus. The first two scenes, which aren't specific to place, are in Wish Theater. The play then moves to the lobby of Memorial Hall. From the lobby, there is a funeral procession to the Bowdoin Chapel, with torches lighting the pathway and the audience members playing the part of the mourners.

"It's an opportunity to become incredibly creative in the way we use the space," said Robinson.

In addition to leaving his mark with the traveling theater idea, Robinson created a chorus character to direct the audience through the different scenes of the play. The chorus is played by Anthony DiNicola '07, with lines taken from "Othello," "Henry V," and "Macbeth."

The Shakespeare study also helped broaden Robinson's ability as an actor, since he said that it is necessary to learn classical technique in acting. Through Shakespeare, he was able to hone those skills.

"To be a professional, you have to be diverse. You can't just do modern theater," Robinson said. "You have to make yourself as marketable as possible."

Robinson believes that people will gravitate towards a collection of villains because of the interest that audiences have in these types of characters.

"People watch certain movies because they want to see something extraordinary happen," he said. "Why do people see 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'? Why do people like Darth Vader?"

Iago may not be Darth Vader, but Robinson's portrayals of these famous villains are an opportunity to strike an extraordinary note.