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THE 3-MINUTE INTERVIEW: Carolyn Spedden

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People,Taylor Holland

Spedden is artistic director of the Maryland Renaissance Festival (which wraps up Sunday in Crownsville) and founder of the comedy group Shakespeare's Skum, where she and three others work year-round to present comedic versions of Shakespeare's plays.

What are some of the highlights of this year's Renaissance Festival?

I think our greatest strength is that there is so much for everyone to enjoy. Our musical program is strong, we have things for history buffs, comedy fans, there's jousting. There really is no one highlight.

What sort of pieces do members of Shakespeare's Skum perform?

We do parodies of Shakespeare's plays. Some of our more recent include "Macbeth in 20 Minutes or Less" and "Tag Team Romeo and Juliet." Our hope is to take the plays that everyone knows and to make them funny.

Is it hard to get into character and perform funny Shakespearian pieces?

It really is tricky because every actor thinks they're a comedian, and that's not true. A parody only works if you believe the people telling jokes are also capable of doing a Shakespeare play. You have to be a good actor and an excellent comedian.

Do you do improv during performances as well?

We don't deviate from the script too much. We do have the freedom to do so, but we have a time limit so we can't go off on wild tangents. A lot of our events are outdoors, so if it starts to rain or a tree branch falls, then we'll incorporate that, but we don't do too much improv.

What's your best piece of advice to people who want to follow in your footsteps?

For actors, the best thing you can do is be aware of what's going on in the world. If you're better informed, you can tailor your performances to follow trends. With comedy, you either have it or you don't. It's hard to teach comedy.

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