Do you ever find yourself watching part of the Saw move franchise and thinking “man, this movie would be great if it had just a little more gratuitous violence”? Well, I’ve got the play for you! Meet Titus Andronicus, father of 21 sons (and one daughter), decorated war hero, and almost-ruler of Rome. Now meet Tamora, Queen of the Goths-turned Roman captive-turned Roman Queen, mother of two psychotic sons with a bastard on the way thanks to her illicit affair with Aaron the Moor. What happens when an unstoppable Goth meets an immovable Roman? I won’t give the game away, but after this play you’ll never look at a pie the same way again.

Titus Andronicus

by William Shakespeare

Directed by: Matt Minnicino

Assistant Directors: Daniel Ellis, Kim Greenawalt
Production Intern: Alex Kingsley

(click to read the full text)

From the director:

There’s no mincing words about Titus Andronicus. It’s a beast. It’s flawed. It’s messy. It’s rough. There are no easy answers in it, and there’s no way to smooth over it’s jagged edges. At first blush, a play with a double digit body count and some karmic cannibalism sounds like a potentially lurid romp, but, in 2017, Titus isn’t fun – anchored as it is on themes of blinkered hatred, racism, and sexual violence. Of Shakespeare’s tragedies, it’s the most frequently dismissed, critically ignored, and pelted with scholarly vitriol. Harold Bloom, watchdog of the Western canon, assured the readers of his seminal Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human that the only usage of Titus was as a gore-bedabbled parody in the vein of Mel Brooks.
So the first time I saw Titus Andronicus onstage (eleven odd years ago), I had prepped for something over-the-top, something hideous and maybe even laughable. What I got was a visceral, beautiful, heart-stopping story about the consuming power of violence. I wept. I gasped. I was terrified, revolted, moved. Once or twice, I realized I wasn’t breathing.
That production, I should mention, was not performed by tenured adult actors with a big budget and months of rehearsal. It was performed by teenagers, at ASCTC.
And that’s what excites me about Titus now, Titus here.
To plumb the depths of a play like this is a challenge. To do it with young actors is a gift. In my years spent at ASCTC, my chief joy has been to watch its students grapple with the hard themes of Shakespeare, to watch them mature and explore the world through Shakespeare’s caring lens. We don’t live in an age where Titus‘ violence and subject matter can be dismissed with a snicker. Kids are more and more aware, more and more in-tune with the rough-hewn planet we share. Titus lets them build a world together, allowing them (and us, their teachers, parents, and audience) to wrestle on their own terms with life’s hardest realities. Truths as hard, as painful, and as powerful as Titus Andronicus itself.