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The Modern Shakespeare Society brings Neo-futurist theater to UNC’s campus


Members of the Modern Shakespeare Society pose for a group photo. The group recently left Lab! Theatre to become its own independent company. Photo courtesy of Bea Manaligod

Anish Pinnamaraju's audition for the Modern Shakespeare Society was anything but traditional. Rather than standing and reading a script, he auditioned by riding a Tar Heel Bike around the room while speaking a monologue about how much he loved the bikes.

This is just one example of how the theater society focuses on the art of Neo-futurism, allowing performers to be authentically themselves onstage. 

The Modern Shakespeare Society's shows are called 30 Plays in 60 Minutes, which is exactly what it sounds like — 30 small plays, ranging from funny skits to personal monologues, are performed within a one-hour period.

“30 Plays not only gives me a platform to explore vulnerability, but also to make people laugh and spread an intense sense of connection,” Pinnamaraju said.

Pinnamaraju, a senior double majoring in dramatic art and communications, has been with the Modern Shakespeare Society since his sophomore year. 

“All the art that we make is very personal to us,” Pinnamaraju said. “They describe our inner lives, things we notice about the world, whether they're funny or very personal (or) vulnerable and sad.”

Mia Lerner, a sophomore majoring in advertising and public relations and creative writing, joined the group during her first year.

Lerner said the group is rooted in honesty, vulnerability, brevity and truth.

“It’s a way of doing theater that's nontraditional,” Lerner said. “It’s not your standard play, but it still says a lot.”

Her favorite part of the Modern Shakespeare Society is the freedom to be completely herself on stage. 

“It’s just this time where people come and it’s like this super fun, really wacky theater time,” Lerner said. “The audience yells at you, you yell back and it’s a lot of interaction.”

Bea Manaligod, a senior majoring in computer science and communications, joined the troupe her sophomore year and feels it has adapted well to moving entirely online.

“The Zoom environment has opened up a lot of cool opportunities for plays,” Manaligod said. “We have a lot of audience interaction via Zoom chat or breakout rooms and screen sharing.”

The society also posts a portion of its show through multimedia on a private Facebook group. Manaligod recently created a sound design file about her dreams and posted it for people to interact with.

“The whole range of emotions that we can express through this theatrical form has shown me that you can overcome the limits of what traditional theater is,” Manaligod said. “Expressing yourself doesn't have to be a scene or something written, it can be a number of things.” 

Manligod said performing with the group is a fun way to express both the funny and sad aspects of college students' lives.

In the future, the Modern Shakespeare Society anticipates more online shows. It will also be holding auditions soon for new collaborators who are ready to be themselves on stage and connect with audiences in a Neo-futuristic style. 

The Modern Shakespeare Society welcomes anyone who is interested to join. 

“We all kind of take what we have and throw it out there and people are always there to support it,"  Manaligod said. “When we put it on, people resonate with what we say.”


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