Newman Theatre Director Mark Mannette uses ‘Original Practice’ style in Shakespeare Bootcamp

Jul 16, 2015

Newman University students aren’t the only ones experiencing summer opportunities. Newman faculty and staff are having great summer adventures as well.

Director of Theatre Mark Mannette recently traveled to New Hampshire to be director of an intensive camp dubbed the “Shakespeare Bootcamp.”


The theatre company Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) annually stages a summer intensive of two Shakespeare productions. The intensive lasts three weeks, with no days off and participants working 12 to 14 hours a day. The company rehearses the plays simultaneously, and lives together as a company. Mannette said he, the cast and the crew all had their work cut out for them.

The mission of TUTS is to present the Shakespearean classics in more traditional ways, using traditional costumes and performed outdoors. Mannette was tasked to direct “Twelfth Night” in a modern conventional way, but also to direct “Two Gentleman of Verona” in an “Original Practice” or OP style.

Mannette explained that OP is, in theory, the way Shakespeare and his company produced the plays. Each actor learns two role tracks, and don’t know which role they are playing until showtime.

“You do all of the text work and everything but don’t block the show,” said Daniel Fetter, an actor from this year’s bootcamp. “Basically nobody in the company knew anyone else’s roles so we had to create the blocking and the movements and all of the interactions with other characters spontaneously on stage. The best way I can describe it is scripted improv.”

Actors from the company said they enjoyed Mannette’s teaching and directing style. Fetter said he liked working with Mannette and the opportunity to play Sebastian in “Twelfth Night.”

Olivia Caputo, another actor in the company, said, “Mark was great to work with. I felt he was really on a level with us and wanted to discuss and work on Shakespeare as a peer rather than an instructor. He has ample knowledge of the subject and was always happy to help anybody. His passion for the work was evident.”

Caputo shared that Mannette even performed for the company by doing a Brutus monologue from “Julius Caesar” on the 4th of July. “It was his opportunity to show off his acting chops.” Caputo said. “I wasn’t there, but I heard great things.”

Mannette said he decided to take the job because he loves working on Shakespeare and has been trained in the OP style of performance. He saw the opportunity as a way to professionally stretch himself, but also, because Mannette is originally from New England, as an opportunity to work closer to home.

“All of the above were achieved,” he said.

Click here for more information about Theatre Under the Stars and the 2015 season.