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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • 1:28 am
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon brings fairy tales to life

Actors+perform+The+Brothers+Grimm+Spectaculathon+presented+by+Pitt+Stages+in+the+Richard+E.+Rauh+Studio+Theatre.
Courtesy of Friedman Wagner-Dobler
Actors perform “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” presented by Pitt Stages in the Richard E. Rauh Studio Theatre.

The classic tales of the Brothers Grimm, like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel, left the audience howling with laughter at the Richard E. Rauh Studio Theater in the Cathedral of Learning. The Pitt Stages production “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” ran from Friday, Nov. 3 to Saturday, Nov. 5. Despite “spectaculathon” not being a real word, Kayleen Skumburdes, a senior theater major and the director of the play, said it’s the only way to explain the one-hour performance. 

“It’s a fast-paced extravaganza,” Skumburdes said.

The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, written by Don Zolidis, compiles 209 fairy tales into a short act. It’s a goofy performance, riddled with jokes and quips about the source materials. From discussions on consent and characters who don’t read the terms and conditions of their deal with Rumpelstiltskin, to trademark and copyright situations with Disney, the play is built to be messy.

Cade Teribery, a junior theater major, plays all of the princesses in the play while dressed in drag. He said making fun of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales was a central concept of the production.

“Part of the comedy is that these stories suck,” Teribery said.

The nine actors on stage are key to the spectaculathon, each playing three or four characters. Skumburdes was aware of this challenge and made it clear to anyone who auditioned. However, Skumburdes said the actors didn’t seem scared of switching between characters. One actor even played every character in the play’s Cinderella story. Austin James, a senior theater major who played the narrator, a prince, the devil and a talking raven, said Skumburdes gave the actors a wide range of creative freedom.

“Kaylee gives us the freedom to try new things. She’ll give us the blockings, but allows us to play with our characters,” James said. 

Teribery said the time limit challenged the actors, with the play running just an hour. 

“We have less time to connect and resonate with the audience. I feel like that helps us make our acting more intense,” explains Teribery.

The Pitt Stages performance is also Skumburdes’ first show as a director and her “send-off” performance in her senior year. Teribery said Skumburdes fostered a close-knit environment in the theater, encouraging the cast to be quick on their feet and are comfortable with ad-libbing.

“This show is very ensemble-driven. Everyone is on the stage. No one leaves the stage for more than a minute,” Teribery said. 

The hour-long performance is lighthearted and comedic, with improvised jokes and witty comments. Skumburdes highlighted the importance of setting a relaxed and fun tone for the one-act play. She chose a comedy because she wants people to have a good time, especially after a long work day.

“I am someone who loves comedy. I am leaning towards the directing side of things, but before that, I was acting for ten years. My biggest thing was comedy: I was always playing a comedic character. I want to direct a show that is hilarious,” Skumburdes said, as the rest of the cast nodded. “This season, the main stages have a deeper social context and they discuss heavy topics, so I want people to come into this show and laugh.” 

James agreed, saying the cast aims to create a sense of comedic escapism with the play.

“I want [the audience] to leave the theater just having laughed, just having had a great night, maybe forget about a problem or two going on in their lives and just come in here, leave it at the door and just watch some goofiness happen on the stage,” James said.

From actors fighting for which dwarf they wanted to perform, to diva princesses and a raven with a New York accent, there was an eclectic variety of jokes. Even more, the Rauh Studio Theater’s stage is level with the audience, bringing the audience closer to the actors. James said the cast desired to offer a more accessible and less formal approach to theater. 

“One challenge I’m looking forward to, especially in modern-day theater, is that audiences have such a pretense that ‘Oh, we have to sit and be quiet in the theater.’ I am looking forward to tackling this challenge,” James said.  

The actors pulled people from the audience on stage, asking them to make the background noises for haunted forests, clap and even advise Hansel and Gretel not to go into the fateful candy house, only for their advice to fall on deaf ears. The audience became a part of the ensemble. The broken fourth wall is intentional for the actors — Teribery even said there is no fourth wall in the Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon. 

“Our characters are very aware that there is an audience,” Teribery said. “The performance is a play of a play.”

Skumburdes said she wanted to offer the audience the chance to step into the magic of fairy tales. 

“Magic can happen in real life,” Skumburdes said. “Happy endings can happen in real life.”

Actors bow following “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” presented by Pitt Stages in the Richard E. Rauh Studio Theatre. (Courtesy of Friedman Wagner-Dobler)

About the Contributor
Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer
Irene Sofía Castillo Maldonado is a junior history of art and architecture major with a museum studies minor and a Latin American studies certificate. She was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so you might see her long Spanish sentences slip through in her exhibition reviews. Aside from The Pitt News, she’s a researcher for anti-colonial practices in museums and art, as well as a firm coffee shop critic –– cortados are her favorite.