The Georgetown Shakespeare Festival has delighted students, teachers, and theater-lovers for five years now. Many years ago, Dr. Gates and Dr. Razzi together planned a field trip to Blackfriars Theater, in Staunton, Virginia, to see Shakespeare performed by the American Shakespeare Center. Everyone had a great experience and the idea of inviting the American Shakespeare Center to Georgetown was born.
The American Shakespeare Center “does it with the lights on.” That means that when they perform, stage and seating areas are both illuminated, exactly as in Shakespeare’s day. The ASC makes a point of observing all of the theatrical conventions of Shakespeare’s day, including actors playing multiple roles in the same play, cross-gender casting, period special effects, no microphones or electronics, plus seating on the stage itself. They also add in popular music just as Shakespeare did to change the mood or to support the themes of the play. “I loved how they made it relatable to their audience,” said Margaret.
The ASC truck pulled up to the side entrance of the Winyah Auditorium around 3:00 on Thursday, January 31. Dr. Gates and some students were around to help them load in. Musical instruments, pieces of the set, large rolling bags of costumes all made their way backstage, then the ASC set to work rehearsing and getting the feel of the Auditorium.
The ASC’s production of Antigone was a stunning performance that brought many members of the audience to tears. With tragic deaths and heart-wrenching cries of grief, the production was flawless. Students and teachers from four different schools arrived to watch the show. Many of them had read the play in class and were eager to see it acted out by professional actors. “Antigone isn’t my favorite play to read,” said Cathryn, “but they did such a great job with it. I actually started crying near the end.”
After the play, students from TGS attended a workshop called “Moving through Antigone,” led by Maddie Calais and Constance Swain. The workshop, which focused on physical movement and staging, proved very popular among the students. They practiced walking at different styles and speeds, and learned how actors would have moved across the stage in Shakespeare’s time. Even those who chose not to participate in the workshop enjoyed sitting in the audience and watching.
Saturday’s workshop began at 9:00 and a couple dozen students and faculty, plus some members of the press, had gathered at the foot of the stage. In preparation for the night’s public performance of the Comedy of Errors, Annabelle Rollison, Topher Embrey, and Ron Roman-Melendez from the ASC were going to teach us how to be twins. Using mirroring exercises and mimicry, students paired up with each other and began to work. Different pairs of hats indicated the different pairs of twins.
Every year, Kingfishers look forward to the days when the actors of the ASC are in-house artists at TGS. Naomi, Ethan, and Grayson agreed, “It was lit!” We thank all our sponsors, parents, and supporters in the community for helping bring these wonderful and talented young thespians to Georgetown.