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October 18, 2018

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Shakespeare with a wink and a nudge

Erotic Shakespeare” exposes the bard’s sexual side

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Kristen Peterson

Director John Beane contemplates Shakespeare’s naughty side. Notice the penis pillars in the back left corner.

It's just after noon on Wednesday and Insurgo Theater Movement is casting for Erotic Shakespeare at the Erotic Heritage Museum where actors are improvising physical (almost acrobatic) interpretations of the writer's work.

The marble penis columns jutting up around them, Greek statues and two king-sized beds flanking them are the reason Insurgo Theater Movement is here.

The avant-garde theater company — known for classic works, original works, a fascination with Franz Kafka, Shakespeare and edgy, but demanding fringe productions — will do a three-part series in the museum's Erotic Chapel, beginning July 17. Though the series is titled Erotic Shakespeare, it could have easily been titled Uncensored Shakespeare because it uses original (uncensored) words from Shakespeare's plays and his sonnets, which depending on what side the scholar stands, are or are not homoerotic.

This is Shakespeare as it is written, says director John Beane. "The work isn't about building this (eroticism), but erasing preconceived, generalized bullshit."

What audiences will mostly notice is a demonstrative performance that breaks wildly from the traditional oratory method seen onstage and in cinema.

Traditionalists might gasp at the endeavor, but this is not uncommon among experimental theatrical companies. Museum curator Laura Henkel extended the invitation. It's something she's wanted to do for a while. "The museum is all about saying that there's nothing wrong with eroticism," she says. "You can't deny that in Shakespeare. I'm so excited because it is so fresh, and yet it's been around forever."

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