Milwaukee funny guy Patrick Schmitz has been involved in a lot over the years. Easily one of the most influential guys in Milwaukee comedy, Schmitz has been instrumental in a number of long-running projects that have been continuing for a number of years including pressurized sketch comedy show Sketch-22 and the long-running Milwaukee Comedy Festival. Schmitz’ latest long-running project (uhh...yeah...that actually sounds right...wow...) is the Shakesparody series in which Schmitz and a group of Milwaukee comedy types do an extended parody of a single Shakespeare show. This coming August, Schmitz brings together Robby McGhee and Beth Lewinski as a doomed King of Scots and his wife as the Shakesparody Players present The Comedy of Macbeth (kinda sorta). Schmitz took some time to answer a few questions about the upcoming show with The Small Stage
The series is growing. This is the next in an ever-expanding series of Shakespeare spoofs that you've written. Why did it take so long to get to MACBETH?
The plan was to present Macbeth as the third Shakes-parody in the summer of 2017 but I felt the script wasn't ready and so I finished writing the Othello parody and put it up last summer instead. The Macbeth...kinda sorta script was completely rewritten and once I had a reading of it this winter, it felt ready to go.
By now you've likely worked out a routine for working on these scripts. What's the process like for you?
The process in writing these scripts is homework, homework, homework. I read the original scripts, discuss certain elements of the shows with Shakespeare fans, watch videos on youtube, and write the script one scene at a time in the order of the original. The process of putting up the shows is to contact people who I feel would be good fits for the roles, we rehearse at the UC and put the shows up in August.
Even Shakespeare spoofery that is as generally well-crafted as THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) can feel a bit stale while it's being performed. With all the repeating themes and patterns found in Shakespeare, how do you keep work on each show fresh and interesting for you?
In order to keep the jokes feeling fresh I truly explore the characters in each show and try to get a strong grasp on their objectives and feelings and emotions and then embellish or juxtapose what I feel makes for a strong comedic twist. Whether that's making Romeo a big cry baby or Hamlet perhaps not as smart as we all think he is, or Macbeth losing his mind even more than he really does in the original (if that's possible). Each of Shakespeare's plays are different which makes writing the parodies also different each time.
Here you've got a great pairing for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth Beth Lewinski and Robby McGhee are a couple of the most talented and seasoend local comedy talents. In addition to this, you've known them for like...a million years or something (give or take.) This can be a blessing and a cruse at the same time. What's it like working with people you've worked with for so long?
Working with Robby and Beth is 100% a blessing. All my cast members have a great balance of adding to the script and knowing when to fully trust the writing throughout rehearsals. I do my best with having a thick filter with who I bring on board for my projects, whether it's Sketch 22, a Shakesparody Show, or improv - the most important question I need answered is "can this person work well with others?" Robby and Beth (and the entire cast) have been great since day one of each production.
Lewinski and McGhee have shown talent for depth and long-term imrpov. A completed script for one of these shows is MUCH longer than a traditional bit of sketch comedy. This gives you the opportunity to develop a depth of characterization that Lewinski and McGhee would be excellent at rendering for the stage. Are you diving into deeper socio-political satire here or are you lurking around the surface of the text for 90 minutes of light comedy?
Political Satire is something I'm not comfortable putting out there. It's just not where my passion is with putting up shows. I enjoy and respect people on TV and even in Milwaukee who explore politics, but I've always seen my shows leaning more into escapism because that's what theatre has always been for me - a break from the real world.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like every time you do one of these shows it only runs for one weekend. Is there any specific reason for this?
I run the show only one weekend because...I really don't know. Maybe because summer vacation for me only lasts for so long and with doing three shows throughout the school year and then one or two in the summer - one weekend per show is enough.
The Comedy of Macbeth...kinda sorta runs Aug. 9-11 at the Tenth Street Theatre on 628 N. 10th St. For ticket reservations, visit Brown Paper Tickets online.