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A Weekend for the Bard

By Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Mar. 20 | Modified: Mar. 31
A Weekend for the Bard

Boyet reads a love letter to The Princess and her ladies. Boyet is played by Cody Watkins, with The Princess, far right, played by Jamie Ascher. The Ladies from left to right are Kaitlyn Sabet, Carmen Lawrence and Michelle Bucci.

Photo by Wyatt Nyman

“When the age is in, the wit is out.”

Chances are William Shakespeare wasn’t referring to himself.

The Bard turns 450 this year, and the High Country Theatre League is here to celebrate. The inaugural High Country Shakespeare Celebration started St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, and will run through Mother’s Day, May 11.

“Beginning today, the High Country Theatre League culminates a two-year planning process with a two-month Shakespeare celebration,” said Keith Martin, ASU’s John M. Blackburn Distinguished Professor Theatre, on Monday. “Dozens of events are planned to commemorate the 450th birthday of the immortal Bard of Avon, making it one of the largest such collaborations in the country.”

And this weekend is a prime example.

‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’

The celebration kicks off with the ASU Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” which opened March 19 and runs through Sunday, March 23. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

According to director Derek Gagnier, this version is produced in modern dress, but retains Shakespeare’s timeless wit.

All shows take place at the university’s Valborg Theatre, located on the north side of Chapell Wilson Hall on Howard Street. Tickets cost $15 for general admission, $8 for ASU students and $13 for faculty, staff and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Valborg or Schaefer Center box offices at (828) 262-3063 or (828) 262-4046, respectively.

‘A Day in the Life of Shakespeare’

On Saturday, March 22, the Society for Creative Anachronism will take area students back in time with what member and event organizer Mindi Bishop is calling a “mini-Renaissance Festival.”

The SCA, she explained, is a not-for-profit educational group that celebrates and recreates 16th-century European life. Bishop is also an adjunct faculty member of dance and costume shop supervisor at LMC.

“Pretty much what I’m doing is bringing the group in, and we’re having an eventful day this weekend,” she said.

That’s putting it modestly. Dubbed “A Day in the Life of Shakespeare,” the festival will feature demonstrations and classes aplenty in various period subjects, like seafaring, siege weapons, armor, dancing, arts and science — and that’s just for starters.

“I think (the High Country Shakespeare Celebration) is a great idea,” Bishop said. “It’s bringing all the theaters together. We have a common theme, trying to help everyone out, so I think it’s a great community project that spans counties; not just our little town.”

On Saturday, it’ll span the Lees-McRae campus. The fun takes place at various locations throughout campus, including Evans Auditorium and Tate Lawn, among other spots, and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. While “Day in the Life” is only open to LMC and ASU students, as well as SCA members, Bishop hopes that will change in the future. “If this goes over really well, (we’re) thinking of maybe doing it again and opening it up to the community,” she said.

For more information, including a schedule of events and locations, visit

‘Shakespeare in Contemporary Performance’

Also on Saturday, from 3 to 5 p.m., ASU will host a symposium, “Shakespeare in Contemporary Performance,” featuring presentations by Dr. Adam Versenyi, Milly S. Barranger Distinguished Term Professor of Dramatic Art at UNC Chapel Hill and dramaturg of PlayMakers Repertory Company, and Megan Burnett, assistant director of speech and theater at Alice Lloyd College.

Versenyi will deliver his presentation, “There’s something in the water: Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ and Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ in repertory at PlayMakers Repertory Company.”

Burnett will follow with her presentation, “A Model for Performing Shakespeare in Appalachia.”

“Shakespeare’s plays are meaningful to so many different audiences and in so many different contexts, and this panel celebrates that by showcasing two very different types of Shakespeare productions available in our region,” said Dr. Paulette Marty, event organizer and associate professor of theater and dance at ASU.

“Dr. Adam Versenyi … will describe PlayMakers’ recent production of ‘The Tempest,’ an example of a professional production with a world-renowned director and veteran professional actors. Prof. Megan Burnett and her students from Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky will give a lecture/performance to demonstrate how their troupe performs Shakespeare for schools, community centers and regional events in rural Kentucky and beyond.”

The symposium will take place in the Beacon Heights Room (417) of ASU’s Plemmons Student Union. The student union is accessible via College and Locust streets, with parking available in nearby parking lots and decks.

For more on the High Country Shakespeare Celebration, see next week’s issue of The Mountain Times.

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