There Will Be Blood

Kill Will gives new life to William Shakespeare's most famous death scenes.

Scandal, tragedy, romance, poetic soliloquies and monologues — let's skip the boring parts of Shakespeare's plays and get to the good stuff: the death scenes. Kill Will, an epic combination of the Bard's greatest murders, suicides and blatantly strange fatalities will give audience members a chance to look death in the eye and laugh Oct. 14-30 at Cleveland Public Theatre. Husband and wife duo Josh Brown and Kelly Elliott, who are local playwrights and fight choreographers, have filtered Shakespeare through Star Wars, samurai fights, The Matrix and many more modern battles using movie clips, costumes and onstage acrobatics. Curious about the origins of Kill Will, we talked with Brown and Elliott about what it feels like to have this much blood on their hands.

Cleveland Magazine: So what is Kill Will?

Kelly Elliott: It's kind of a comedy, stage combat, vaudeville-type extravaganza. The name Shakespeare scares people, but the important thing to come away with is it's not Shakespeare. We're just doing his deaths in different ways.

Josh Brown: Exactly. For the purpose of this show, the fights are what interest us the most. So how would we do Henry IV? We'd probably do that like a Star Wars film. Now let's just show you the fight.

CM: How did you choose the death scenes?

KE: We made a huge Excel spreadsheet of every single death in Shakespeare. We found this fantastic reference book. I don't even remember what it's called now.

JB: An Encyclopedia of Shakespearean Characters, or something like that.

KE: Yeah, we just happened across it. We just scanned through it, looked at the bottom of each character and saw if they died or not.

JB: And there are some pretty interesting things. In one of the histories, somebody actually dies of grief and somebody else dies escaping from prison by falling off a wall.

CM: What is your favorite fight scene?

KE: For many reasons the Hamlet fight is my favorite at the moment because we present Hamlet in a silent-film style. It's one of the most interactive for the audience as a whole, and it's a dagger fight, which Josh and I rarely get to do, so that alone excites me.

JB: My favorite is probably the Romeo and Juliet fight, which is a combination of The Matrix and [director] John Woo. It's the funniest I think.

CM: What do you think Shakespeare would say if he could see this show?

KE: Gosh, I hope he would just laugh his butt off. If you go with the theory that all these plays were written by this one guy, he managed to write some of the most beautifully tragic human emotion so poignantly as well as some of the most disgustingly perverse, blatantly sexual comedy.

JB: I agree with Kelly. The guy who wrote Titus Andronicus has got to approve of this.

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