The La Verne Shakespeare Experience presented Misha Bouvion in her one-woman adaptation of “Venus and Adonis” in the Dailey Theatre on Feb. 14.
“Venus and Adonis” is one of Shakespeare’s epic poems, narrating the life of Venus, goddess of love, being rejected by hunter Adonis.
The stage was dimly lit, with one short stool as the anchor for all of Venus’ raging emotions during the performance.
Venus’ moods fluctuated throughout the performance, ranging from lust-exhibiting raunchiness to desolation and mournfulness.
“This man has somehow made a god suddenly doubt herself and feel like she’s not beautiful,” Bouvion said.
Venus acts as a quirky seductress, yet still tries to contain her god-like composure around Adonis.
“It’s even more powerful because it’s this random man, or boy, who has no interest in the goddess of love,” she said.
Adonis, who has not yet reached the age of maturity, continues to brush off Venus’ sultry attempts and proceeds to hunt a boar.
Bouvion grabs the viewers’ attention with animated facial expressions and large gestures which express Venus’ eternal love for Adonis.
“Having performed this first when I was 18, I didn’t realize how developed the character of Venus was,” Bouvin said.
“Now that I have dealt with real loss and love over the years, I feel Venus’ rejection differently, as if I’ve grown with the character,” she said.
“It’s been terrifying at moments, and the biggest joy that I’ve learned is to treat it like a meditation,” Bouvion said.
“On one hand, I want it to be fun and accessible to the audience, but then I also want to keep it as original as possible, thinking back to how Venus would actually speak to Adonis,” Bouvion said.
Bouvion acted as the composer of the audience’s laughter as it filled the theater when Venus would hyperbolize her undying lust for Adonis.
“All the reaction has been very positive, but every reaction is going to be different, and that is the joy and pain of live theatre,” Bouvion said.
“It was really fun to watch this show, and it was timely as well,” said Diana Galicia, senior English major.
A short question and answer session from the audience followed the show, as questions ranged from Bouvion’s previous performances of “Venus and Adonis,” to rival productions of the show.
“Misha did a really good job with making it contemporary for people like me who don’t know Shakespeare that well,” Adrienne Bobadilla, senior English major, said.
This is the second time Bouvion has performed this show as a one-woman piece, and she learns something new every time as a solo actor on stage.
“I need to make sure I’m warmed up physically and vocally,” Bouvion said.
“When rehearsing it, it takes me a long time to build my stamina to be able to be mentally focused for that long,” she said.
Professor of English Jeffrey Kahan, creator of the La Verne Shakespeare Experience, invited Bouvion to perform her solo piece.
“Our mandate for the La Verne Shakespeare Experience is to have more Shakespearean experiences for the campus and to interact with the local community in ways that enhance the reputation of the University and bring forth the value of the arts in society,” Kahan said.
“Misha’s play was a perfect example of how the Shakespeare Experience could interact both with the campus community, and the large local populace,” he said.
The Other Shakespeare, and Shakespeare are two of Kahan’s classes that took part in viewing the show as insight on how performing Shakespeare differs from reading it.
“She made it relatable to what is going on in my life,” Bobadilla said.
“I was able to understand it clearly,” she said.
Bouvion pursued her Shakespearean passion at Chapman University where she earned her bachelor’s degree.
She plans on moving to New York City for her graduate degree at the New School for Drama.
She has performed in three other versions of “Venus and Adonis,” and has worked in independent films, TV, radio and print.
Erum Jaffrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.