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March 10, 2010 > Theatre Preview: Shakespeare's worst play

Theatre Preview: Shakespeare's worst play

Calaveras Repertory Theatre stages King John as a comedy

By Dustin Findley

Artistic Director and Founding Director John Ribovich describes the Calaveras Repertory Theatre as a small professional theatre company that looks at drama in poetic and linguistic terms. Consequently, they have done much Shakespeare and many classical works.

Starting on March 11, Calaveras Rep will perform Shakespeare's "King John" which is seldom performed.

"If you're a Shakespeare fan, you should see this, if for no other reason than you won't have many chances to do so in your lifetime," said Ribovich. "It's also one of the Bard's weaker efforts."

Ribovich took the original text, cut out around 1,000 lines, and wrote another 300 lines in iambic pentameter.

"Much of the original is retained because there are those strange twists and turns in the thing, turned into a comedy."

The show is done in the style of Monty Python, Italian commedia dell'arte, which is a very slapstick, fast-moving kind of theatre, with a little bit of Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged.

According to Ribovich, while the whole of King John is written in verse, iambic pentameter, except for three monologues, it still has a "zany feel to it." Things that would have to be "made logical" in a serious production can go in "the other direction."

"We're aim to forge stronger links with the community" said Ribovich. "Many people don't know we're here even though we've been around for 15 years."

Calaveras Repertory Theatre is within the Ayer Education Center on Park Victoria Drive, on the same campus as the Milpitas Unified School District office, Milpitas Sports Center, Calaveras Hills High and Adult Education.

King John opens on Thursday, March 11 and runs Thursday to Sunday through March 28. All performances are at 8 p.m. except on Sundays when there is a 2 p.m. matinee. The play lasts about two hours. Tickets are available through the repertory company's website, from the box office or at the door.

"Performing King John as a comedy is rather cutting edge. It hasn't been done before," said Ribovich. "We try to do things a little differently, not just standard community theatre."

The theatre is a former large storage room for the school district. When Ribovich learned of it about a decade ago, he negotiated a deal to turn the space into a black-box theatre which creates a more intimate relationship between actor and audience.

In a more personal performance arena, like Calaveras Rep, every facial expression is visible and actors' voices audible. Ribovich delights in the magic live actors impart to an audience.

Fore more information, visit or call (408) 586-8831 and leave a message. Calaveras Rep needs volunteers for all aspects of production. Anyone interested in auditioning should forward their resume (of acting experience) to Casting, Calaveras Repertory Theater, PO Box 360783, Milpitas, CA 95036-0783 or email

King John The Comedy
Thursdays - Sundays, March 11 - March 28
8 p.m. (Sundays 2 p.m.)
Samuel Ayer Education Center
1331 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas
(408) 586-8831

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