Fringe Spotlight: Ministers of Grace, The Unofficial Shakespearean Parody of Ghostbusters

Ministers of GraceThe Hollywood Fringe Festival is just around the corner and this year, more than ever before, audiences will have an opportunity to see creative twists on some familiar classic plays, including some by Shakespeare. At last count, there were 8 productions scheduled to appear and, over the next few weeks, I’ll be checking in with them to get the inside scoop so you can make the most of your Fringe experience. It’s Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this year; let the games begin.

One of most anticipated Fringe offerings is from the director and co-writer of Pulp Shakespeare, which was a breakout hit in 2011 and received a Best of Fringe Award before going to the east coast and conquering the New York Fringe Festival. Jordan Monsell’s Ministers of Grace: The Unauthorized Parody of Ghostbusters will be presented as a one-night-only staged reading in preparation for a full production at a later date. It imagines what the movie Ghostbusters would be like if it was written by William Shakespeare, telling the story of three unemployed professors of the supernatural who set up shop as a unique spirit removal service. I think you’ll agree that it’s one not to miss.

Jordan, with such smart writing, it wasn’t surprising that Pulp Fiction became a Fringe favorite. How did you decide to make Ghostbusters your next project? 

JM: After Pulp Shakespeare, it seemed natural to follow with another mash-up. I began to think of other cult films like Pulp Fiction; films that were very quotable. The Wizard of Oz, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came to mind. Star Wars, The Godfather, and The Big Lebowski had been adapted by other authors, but I wanted to write the script on my own. That’s when I settled on Ghostbusters–one of my favorite films. When I was 8 years old, I had my own Ghostbusters club. Cardboard traps, flashlights, that sort of thing. I was obsessed. Oddly enough, 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, and the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. So it seemed appropriate that this be the show.

Why do you think it will appeal to a Fringe audience?

JM: Pulp Shakespeare was very well received at both the Hollywood and New York Fringe Festivals. I knew there were countless fans of Pulp Fiction but wasn’t sure how many had ever attended a production of a Shakespeare play. I hoped that if they knew the plot and characters of the movie, they would be able to not only understand, but have an appreciation for the poetry of Shakespeare. Several audience members who reviewed Pulp said they were apprehensive at first, but that they soon became fully engaged in the language and the action onstage.

Ghostbusters seems to be a perfect choice.

JM: Ghostbusters–dare I say it–has an even bigger cult following than Pulp Fiction. I think Fringe audiences will appreciate the references to ghosts in Shakespeare’s works. The spirit world was something very natural in Shakespeare’s time, and he included ghosts in four of his plays. Not to mention strange creatures in several more. Ghost hunting reality shows are all the rage on TV these days, so audiences may appreciate a classical take on the subject.

In addition, the play moves quickly. Scenes are snappy, and are not heavy with iambic pentameter. It is also a play for all ages, while Pulp Shakespeare wasn’t appropriate for children.

Do you have your cast in place for the reading?

I may be adding to the cast, but right now Libby Letlow, Drew Doyle, Dan White, Patrick Wenk-Wolff, and Alex Knox will be joining me for the reading. It’s a group of actors who are well-versed in the classics and we’ll each read several parts.

Are there any surprises in store for the audience?

With a staged reading, we can only have so many surprises. Slimer and Stay Puft will sadly not be making an appearance until we can do a full production and do them justice. But I think the humor may surprise them; famous lines of Shakespeare fit surprising well into Ghostbusters.

Do you have plans for it beyond the Fringe?

Indeed! While admission to the reading on June 27th is free, audience members are encouraged to make a donation. All money raised will go towards staging a full production, complete with Elizabethan proton packs, ghostly puppets, beautiful costumes, and original music. Theatre of this magnitude isn’t cheap, but with enough support, we can make it happen!

Friday, June 27, 2014
11:30 pm
Theatre Asylum (Lillian Theatre)
6320 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood
Seating is limited so make your reservations now.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Patrick Stewart's Macbeth, Ghostbusting Shakespeare, Beatrice and Benedick in a novel| Bard in Multimedia » The Shakespeare Standard
  2. Trackback: Patrick Stewart's Macbeth, Ghostbusting Shakespeare, Beatrice and Benedick in a novel| Bard in Multimedia | The Shakespeare Standard
  3. Trackback: Patrick Stewart's Macbeth, Ghostbusting Shakespeare, Beatrice and Benedick in a novel| Bard in Multimedia | The Shakespeare Standard

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