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Post-Plague Shakespeare Returns
September 25 @ 5:00 pm - September 26 @ 7:00 pm
After a tumultuous year, Shore Shakespeare Company will once again bring the language, poignancy and beauty of the world’s greatest dramatist to audiences on the Mid Shore.
2020 proved to be a year fraught with “Shakespearean-esque” trials for the company, now in its ninth season. The COVID-19 pandemic arose just as planning began for a would-be fall performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor, halting production. Then, tragically and suddenly, co-founder Chris Rogers died in June 2020. COVID-19 as well as Chris’ passing prevented a 2020 tour, but Shore Shakespeare is back this September with a slightly different approach.
Chris founded the company with fellow actor Avra Sullivan in 2013 and since then Shore Shakespeare has taken performances of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Comedy of Errors, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream among others to multiple venues around the Mid Shore. Audiences of Shore Shakespeare experience performances similar to what those in Shakespeare’s Elizabethan England would have – outdoors, in the open, with minimal set and tech. In much the same manner as traveling troupes in Shakespeare’s day and with a mobile unit serving as their base stage, the group loads in, performs for a weekend, packs up and heads out to the next stop, mostly in local parks.
A Little Touch of Shakespeare includes seven actors showcasing 11 scenes from 10 of the Bard’s most famous works, including Richard III, Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, and others. Narrated by Shakespeare himself, the show takes audiences behind the scenes to see what Will may have been thinking as he wrote some of the wittiest, charming and in some cases, darkest, dialogue ever. The scenes themselves center on the theme of love, including the star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet, the witty bantering of Much Ado About Nothing’s Beatrice and Benedick, and even some questions surrounding age-old assumptions about men and women posed since the beginning of time.
In addition, the show strategically places seven of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which also deal with the theme of love, throughout the scenes. The cast includes Bob Chauncey taking on the role of Will Shakespeare and features Paul Briggs, Samantha Davis, Josh Hansen, Christine Kinlock, Troy Strootman and Avra Sullivan as Will’s “muses” who bring to life the variety of characters he introduces. Long term company member Juanita Wieczoreck, who co-directed The Merchant of Venice with Chris in 2019, directs the show. Edited by Juanita and company member Greg Minahan, the show includes selections from most of Shore Shakespeare’s past productions.
The show was originally written by Chris in 2013 and will be a tribute to him and his incredible contribution to local community theatre here on the Eastern Shore for the past 20-plus years. There are few within the local theatre world who did not work with Chris at some point, either onstage or behind the scenes. Chris not only co-founded the company but directed the previous three shows – A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2017, As You Like It in 2018, and The Merchant of Venice in 2019. Often doubling and tripling up as technical director and set designer/builder, there were few areas of a production he didn’t touch, and he continues to be sorely missed by many.
A Little Touch of Shakespeare will open September 18 and 19 at 2 p.m. under the pavilion at Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely. Tickets for that performance cost $15 for adults, $5 for kids three to 18 and free for children three and under. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Arboretum at 410-634-2847 or visiting www.adkinsarboretum.org.
The tour continues September 25 and 26 at 5 p.m. at Wharf Park, located at 212 Watson Road in Centreville. Centreville performances are free, but donations are welcome. Learn more about the company and this year’s tour by visiting Facebook @ShoreShakespeare.