Like a number of people in the community, Adrianna True knows just how powerful theater can be in a smaller town.
In the months since she founded her theater company, True Troupe, the actress/director/producer has been trying to find ways to stage different types of shows in completely new settings. The organization has been regularly utilizing the Laramie County Community College Playhouse for its shows, which are usually free and open to the public.
As a company that prides itself on thinking outside the box, True and the rest of her crew will be doing something a little different, yet also traditional, starting this week.
Beginning Thursday evening, the True Tro-upe will begin staging a Classics in the Park series, featuring performances of the Greek play “Lysistratra” and the Shakespeare classic “The Tempest.”
True wanted to create this series because she feels the Cheyenne community has been apprehensive about embracing Shakespeare.
“Cheyenne seems to be scared of going to see Shakespeare, unless it’s something happening outside,” she said. “Park series seem to do well here, though. We have the Civic Concert Band; we used to have the summer movie series in the park. We have seen how popular these events are, so we wanted to find a way to create something that would fit ours and the community’s wants and needs.”
While these two shows might seem dry and inaccessible to a younger crowd, True feels that with the right crew, you can make it a fun, affordable time for the whole family. It doesn’t hurt that as an admitted Shakespeare fan, she wants to spread her passion for the legendary playwright to the rest of the community.
The classics series will be broken into two parts: “Lysistrata” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. June 27-30 and July 4-6 at the McIlvain Plaza at the college. “The Tempest” will be staged at 5:30 p.m. July 4-6 and July 11-13 in the same place.
“Lysistrata” is a Greek play that was originally performed around 411 B.C. and was written by comic playwright Aristophanes. It is about the titular character trying to convince the women of Greece to deny their husbands and lovers physical pleasure to ultimately convince the men to negotiate peace and end the war they’re fighting in. This ends up causing a battle between the sexes.
“There is a lot of speculation that Aristophanes was either a woman or a trans man, actually,” True said. “This is the Greek play we have that has a female lead. It’s the first battle of the sexes comedy. I think it’s hysterical.”
If you’re worried about not understanding the language, don’t. True has worked at updating the script to have more modern language for everyone to be able to figure out what’s going on. She’s also updated the setting, placing the play in the midst of the feminist uprising of the 1960s.
While both plays will be mostly family-friendly, True noted that anyone attending “Lysistrata” know that she’s giving it a “PG-13” rating.
As for “The Tempest,” it’s going to be a kids-only performance.
“We have kids from ages six to 18,” she said. “We talked about breaking up the classics series, because I wanted to provide some more opportunities for our kiddos. So I feel ‘The Tempest’ is a great dark comedy and an even better introduction to Shakespeare for the young ones.”
“The Tempest” is considered one of the last plays Shakespeare wrote alone, penned around 1610. It tells the story of the former duke, Prospero, who lives on an island with his daughter Miranda, a wildman named Caliban and a sprite named Ariel. After a ship wrecks during a storm (the tempest of the title), the survivors come to Prospero’s island.
“This show, to me, is hilarious because everyone is so lost all the time,” True said. “Prospero is so over the top and dramatic, and I love it. It’s hilarious, but it’s also a great show to teach kids about acting and when they can take it to the next level. I think this series is going to be a lot of fun, and people will really appreciate something new.”