Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Shakespearean comedy and tragedy come to Wayne College

Dominic Piacentini

Editor-in-Chief This weekend Wayne County is going Elizabethan. The University of Akron Wayne College will be hosting its 16th annual Shakespeare Festival. For this year’s festival, the American Shakespeare Center will be bringing two shows as part of its 2014-15 “Method in Madness” tour: Much Ado about Nothing and Hamlet. The American Shakespeare Center, which tours worldwide, adheres to traditional Renaissance principles of theater. From their sets and costumes to their music and lighting, the troupe offers all those in attendance an authentic Elizabethan experience.

“Method in Madness” — a title inspired by Polonius’s line in Hamlet: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t” — showcases two manifestations of madness in the human experience. In Hamlet, the titular protagonist struggles to differentiate between illusion and reality in the face of tragedy and conflict. Much Ado about Nothing instead portrays the mad giddiness that erupts out of love.

Hamlet plays tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Life Building on Wayne College campus (located on Smucker Road in Orville). The performance will be directed by Artistic Director and Co-Founder of American Shakespeare Center Jim Warren. Warren directed the Center’s first performance in 1988, and will have directed 113 of the company’s productions by the conclusion of the 2014-15 tour. Warren and his actors have prepared two separate performances (one based on the 1603 text and another taken after the 1604/1623 version of the play). In his director’s notes, Warren says “maybe we’ll flip a coin and let an audience member choose … by calling heads or tails.”

Much Ado about Nothing will play tomorrow night, again at 7:30 p.m., in Wayne College’s Student Life Building. The comedy will be directed by Benjamin Curns, an associate director who has been working for ASC since 2001. Curns says of the play, “working on Much Ado is a bit like falling in love. It makes me excited, and it makes me nervous; but, like love, I am sure it will make me better. I hope it does for you too.”

Both performances will be led by husband and wife Patrick Earl and Stephanie Holladay Earl, playing principals Hamlet and Benedick and Gertrude and Beatrice, respectively. Patrick Earl and Stephanie Holladay Earl are supported by Susie Parr as Ophelia and Hero and Ben Gorman as Claudius and Leonato, with John Innerst as Ghost and Don Pedro.

Both plays will be performed on an open stage (a rectangular stage that is surrounded by audience members on three sides) in universal lighting (actors and audience sharing the same pool of light). Tickets for students cost $10 and are available at the door or by calling the College’s Cashier Office at (330) 684-8932. If you are interested in seeing authentic Shakespeare but cannot afford the time or money to see both, know that while Hamlet is a tragic adventure filled with enough dramatic irony to make you scream, Much Ado about Nothing will assure you that we’ve always handled our “feelings” this poorly. The two-day long theater festival is yet another opportunity to experience the surprisingly vast and varied culture Wayne County has to offer.

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