Those who have been to Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s quirky, musical shows are familiar with the usual setup on the grounds of the 1897 Poe House. But the company’s got another trick up its sleeve that pops out once per season – the venue-traversing LIT show. LIT plays off the word “literature” and the millennial term “lit,” which refers to having fun and/ or getting drunk. For 2018-19, it’s “OthelLIT,” a show that’s as irreverent as it is true to Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Othello.” The show opens Oct. 4 and runs through the 30th.
“We do the original ‘Othello’ text but cut it down,” said director Marie Lowe. “It’s really just the essential plotlines. To that, we then add drinking games, improv comedy, ’80s and ’90s novelty pop songs. We add fun.
“I particularly enjoy doing this with a tragedy. I think it’s funnier doing it with a tragedy.”
For LIT, STS chooses well-known works so that most audience mem-bers will walk in already having a basic knowledge of the story. Past LIT shows include “HamLIT” and “As You Like LIT.”
“But what they don’t know, with the LIT series, is exactly how we’re going to turn it on its ear,” said “OthelLIT” actress Tohry Petty. “How are we going to light it up?”
She said acting in a LIT show is “like going to the best game night ever at your friend’s house.”
Petty performs two primary roles in the show. As the host, she helps audience members follow the shenanigan-filled narrative. As an actress, she doubles as Emilia – maidservant to Othello’s wife and wife to Othello’s traitorous ensign, Iago – and the Duke of Venice. Taj Allen plays Othello, and Nathan Pearce plays Iago. A few other company members, with a little help from the audience, create the rest of the story’s characters.
“Audience members are able to volunteer for minor roles,” Lowe said. “Night to night, it makes the show entirely different, depending on who the audience members are and what they bring to it. You could see a LIT show four or five or six times and really get a different experience every time.”
Stage manager Hanna Lafko will guide everyone through their many opportunities to participate in the fun.
“I think it’s always good for the audience to know that there is some-one who’s there specifically to help them know what to do,” Lowe said. “You have to volunteer, and then we take very good care of you. And if you don’t want to be on the stage, you won’t be. If you don’t want to drink, you don’t have to. It’s a lot of fun, and we want the experience to be great for everyone.”
Getting a show LIT also involves shaking up the venue. “OthelLIT” will play locally at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, Paddy’s Irish Pub, and the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County. The boisterous troupe will also travel to Hugger Mugger Brewing Company in Sanford and Fainting Goat Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina.
Tickets cost $17.50 in advance, with military, senior and student discounts available, or $25 at the door. For a list of dates and locations, and to purchase tickets, visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com.