Shakespeare scholar to speak Dec. 2
Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen, noted Shakespeare scholar and co-founder
of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., will discuss “The Role of the Arts in Building
Community Economies” at Appalachian State University Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.
His lecture will be presented in the Valborg Theatre. It is free and open to the public.
Cohen is director of mission at the American Shakespeare Center, as well as the Gonder Professor of Shakespeare and Performance and founder of the Master of Letters and Fine Arts program at Mary Baldwin College. He was project director for the building of the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va., where he has directed 30 productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
The center produces professional theater 52 weeks per year in downtown Staunton at the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s first indoor theater. It provides more than 100 full-time equivalent jobs, generates nearly $400,000 per year in local and state taxes and fees and attracts approximately 55,000 attendees annually.
The Staunton Department of Economic Development estimates that visitors who come to the town to attend the theater spend $14.75 million dollars in the area each year.
Local residents interested in economic growth and the role of the arts in the greater Boone community should attend, according to event organizer Dr. Paulette Marty, who teaches theater at Appalachian. In addition to being articulate and engaging, Cohen “is also very knowledgeable about the impact of the arts on economies across the English-speaking world, and the scope of his talk will range beyond the case study of Staunton to examine broader trends,” she said.
In 2008, the state of Virginia recognized Cohen’s contributions to the region by presenting him with the Commonwealth Governor’s Arts Award. He also has been widely lauded for his contributions to the field of Shakespeare studies. In 2009, he was the Theo Crosby Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. In 2013, the Folger Shakespeare Library awarded him the prestigious Shakespeare Steward Award. Cohen has also received multiple National Endowment for the Humanities grants to direct summer institutes on Shakespeare and staging.
Cohen earned his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and his doctorate at Duke University.
He is the author of “ShakesFear and How to Cure It: A Handbook for Teaching Shakespeare,” editor of two special teaching issues of the Shakespeare Quarterly and author of articles on teaching Shakespeare, as well as on Shakespeare, Jonson and Elizabethan staging.
The Valborg Theatre is located on the north side of Chapell Wilson Hall on Howard Street. The door faces the back of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts on King Street in downtown Boone. Parking is available after 5 p.m. on campus in faculty lots and after 5:30 in the College Street parking deck near Belk Library and Information Commons.