PHOTO: Shakespeare on the Road will travel to 14 Shakespeare festivals this summer. Project image
A focal point will be Wednesday’s performance of “King Lear.” Scholars from Shakespeare on the Road intend to connect with company and audience members. That’s a tip of an iceberg for both Door Shakespeare and the project.
Amy Ludwigsen, Door Shakespeare executive director, heard of the venture when attending the Shakespeare Theatre Association annual conference in January at
“It will be an interesting learning process on both sides,” Amy Ludwigen said. “There’s still this amazing thought for them that theaters pop up in the summer strictly to produce Shakespeare. It’s something that’s still pretty incredible to everyone.
“In a community like
“Part of my job is to come up with an itinerary for them to get to know
“For us, we’re interested in learning more about the project and learning more about their travels and what they’ve been through and what they’ve seen. It’s just broadening that scope of how powerful and how huge the tradition of producing Shakespeare is and how varied it is.”
The Shakespeare on the Road folks are seeing vast differences.
Amy Ludwigsen said, “They’ll go to
Much of the activity has to do with anniversaries. Amy Ludwigsen jumped on board the project in part because of them.
She said, “I think that this is a real interesting time for Door Shakespeare right now. As we are kind of carving out a new path and strengthening our identity, I thought if we put our name on a map of a bigger picture of Shakespeare and how Shakespeare’s not just in
Door Shakespeare has been around since 1995. The company usually puts on two plays a summer. This year, along with “King Lear,” “The Comedy of Errors” is running in repertory until Aug. 16. Info is at www.doorshakespeare.com. (My review of “The Comedy of Errors” is at http://www.wearegreenbay.com/story/d/story/critic-at-large/25002/jWE85zrqO0avF5ga2INmww. My review of “King Lear” is at http://www.wearegreenbay.com/story/d/story/critic-at-large/30192/IDLwogbgRUyMf_EoKXwx5Q.) The company developed in fits and starts and advanced under the guidance of previous leaders Suzanne Graff and Jerry Gomis, including in the face of health problems. This is Amy Ludwigsen’s second season as executive director.
One of Amy Ludwigsen’s goals is “more presence in the larger network of theaters that produce primarily Shakespeare. And again, affirming what we do and where we do it. All of the archival footage that they (Shakespeare on the Road people) take – all the interviews that they have with community members, members of the company – will live in the
More on the project is a www.shakespeareontheroad.com.
TAKING A STEP BACK
Now, to William Shakespeare. His writing is more than 400 years old, from another country, in words that are sometimes archaic. And yet there are Door Shakespeare and a lot of other places still presenting his plays. What is it about Shakespeare that connects?
Amy Ludwigsen said, “I think all the resonance lies in the humanity of the stories and the situations in the context that we still find ourselves in today. When you boil everything down in Shakespeare, this is the foundation of so many stories that we see on screen, on TV, in musicals. So much is adapted from the work of William Shakespeare. So much of what we say, whether we know it or not, is his words. So it’s still really resonant because the situations are so resonant…
“Our keynote speaker for the annual conference, Antoni Cimolino, the artistic director of the Stratford Festival, said, When you present Shakespeare, you have a finite canon. You have this many stories to tell, and when you’re going to tell them more than once, you have to know why you’re telling them and why are these scenes still relevant today. Is it because the political climate of where you’re producing them? Is it because of what’s happening in the world that our audience is coming from? Because these basic themes – love, family, war, politics – also exist, and they exist in maybe different ways now and in different relevance… but it’s still what we’re going through today and what we deal with on a daily basis. Those relationships, the context, the culture, atmosphere, environment – all of that is still very much the same. So I think that’s why we connect to it.”
Amy Ludwigsen was speaking excitedly, just off the top of her head.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about it. It’s something that when you chose to do Shakespeare. It’s not in the box. We’re not writing contemporary plays where people are, ‘Oh, look at everyone on their iPhones.’ We are performing work that’s been studied. I have study group that meets on Mondays. We talked about it. Producing Shakespeare is really interesting because people have read it. They’ve already had an experience with it before they come to the theater, unlike producing new works… We deal with a playwright – because he’s so well known because he’s stood the test of time in so many different ways – that people have had an encounter with Shakespeare probably in high school or in college in a language class. How does that affect them buying tickets, how does that affect them understanding and enjoying plays – getting there in the first place? It’s a really interesting process.”
It seems there are a lot of Sam Wanamakers (maybe a Samuel or maybe a Samantha) in the world today. Amy Ludwigsen found a bunch of them in
She said, “We all want this tradition to stick around and classical theater and Shakespeare to be part of where we come from. It was so helpful to be in a room with representatives from the 125 theaters that are members and see how we can best do that and what we can take back to the communities that we’re working in and what will work and what will serve them best.”
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