‘The To-and-fro’

By Jesse Campbell (jesse.campbell@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: Apr. 17 | Modified: Apr. 24
‘The To-and-fro’

ASU senior Jeremiah Miller penned an original play, 'The To-and-fro,' which will be presented in a reading Wednesday, as part of the High Country Shakespeare Celebration.

Photo submitted

Jeremiah Miller has always been captivated by a love of theater, and since he first became an aspiring thespian, he has dreamed of taking it to New York City.

Growing up in Lancaster, Pa., Miller, an Appalachian State University senior, longed for the limelight of the stage and soon began to develop quite the taste for the works of classical playwrights, including the illustrious quips and descriptive language of William Shakespeare.

His fascination for the author’s mastery in capturing the human spirit eventually led him to try his own merit and skill in handling complex themes and emotions by penning various plays whenever time permitted.

“When I’m not in class, I’m usually composing a play,” Miller said. “Sometimes, I get this idea, and I just start writing.”

While working, Miller also draws upon his past acting experience, including some short stints on the hit TV legal drama, “Law & Order.”

One such idea that struck Miller as potential theatrical gold came from his inspiration, Shakespeare — not from one of his plays, but from the struggles of his day-to-day life.

From that tidbit of history sprung Miller’s latest creation, “The To-and-fro,” which is based on the not so familiar parts of Shakespeare’s life.

In 1612, while living upstairs from an English wig shop, Shakespeare became entangled in a legal battle over an unpaid dowry that was promised to a young apprentice.

Shakespeare’s role in the fiasco became clearer during trial.

Through his research, Miller discovered the owners of the wig shop had asked Shakespeare if he would try to convince the young apprentice to marry their daughter.

Miller concluded Shakespeare’s matchmaker status would have “been a perfect fit for him,” considering the immense amount of time he gave to writing on matters of the heart.

What’s even more compelling about this case than the side note of a romance gone awry is what it tells about Shakespeare’s personality and biography, which is scantly revealed through history, Miller said.

“I read a book, called ‘The Shakespeare Wars,’ and in that, it talks about the transcript of the trial, and it was pretty fun to read the testimony,” Miller said. “It sounds like he (Shakespeare) was equivocating a little bit, and he might have possibly been responsible (for the dispute).”

The testimony also shows that “this man from Stratford really was the playwright,” Miller said.

A reading of Miller’s play will be held at 3 p.m. April 23 — Shakespeare’s birthday — at ASU’s Belk Library in room 421.

“I hope those who do come laugh a lot,” Miller said. “I’ve always been enamored with the humor of Shakespeare. The whole time I was writing the play, I used ‘No Fear Shakespeare’ in translations of Shakespeare into modern language. Being able to see the side-by-side translation helped me a lot to nail down the way people talked in Elizabethan London.”

“The To and Fro” is part of the High Country Shakespeare Celebration. For more information, visit http://www.highcountryshakespeare.org.

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