56 Nights with Hippies, Businessmen and the Bard

ky shakespeareTonight was the opening night for the 54th season of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.  The C. Douglas Ramey stage was set for a Midsummer’s Night Dream, but the atmosphere was a dream come true. Ten months ago Producing Artistic Director, Matt Wallace stepped in with a vision for a true festival and an expanded summer season.  Matt has been in the wings directing elsewhere, waiting for his opportunity to direct back home in the park.

The benches were filled with an eclectic audience. There were business men straight from the office with a loosened tie relaxing with a Brown-Forman cocktail and over at the picnic tables a beautiful young earthy girl and a boyfriend who had plenty of piercings. A group of students gather on the back row ready to fulfill their extra credit requirements. The Louisville Food Truck Association is the star with a hot dog truck and a truck with desserts; or perhaps you bring your own picnic.

The spirit of William Shakespeare no doubt danced in perfect step to the pre-show roaming musicians. With the audience transported back 400 years, the actors took the stage and completed the journey to the mischief-filled night in the forest with Puck and his friends.

To celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday there will be 55 more nights in Central Park through August 17thA Midsummer’s Night Dream, Henry V, and Hamlet. The Globe Players (youth) will round out the festival with Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Come to the park this summer and see where you will end up.  Don’t think you can understand what’s going on?  Ah, this is the magic of the theater – you will understand the story if not all of the words.  Just go, and let your self be drawn into the action and expressions on the stage. You will leave the evening a changed person; possibly looking at love and life a little differently.

See you in the park,


Reality TV has nothing on Shakespeare

William Shakespeare’s contribution to literature and culture is bigger than most think.  He was a very common man (like most of us) who stepped out of the norm to write stories that poked fun at royalty, slandered political parties, and questioned societal snobbery.  Imagine what his posts on Facebook would have been like.  Today, he is the second most quoted writer in history; second only to writers in the Bible.

In looking for information on Shakespeare, I couldn’t find my notes so I googled it.  Who would have thought even 10 years ago that the word google would be a verb, much less accepted in most board rooms across our land?  The peers of William Shakespeare probably thought the same way with some of the 1700 common words he invented.  He was very crafty in taking verbs and turning them into nouns by adding a prefix or suffix, like buzz to buzzer.

In Kentucky, we have the opportunity to experience the works of Shakespeare under the stars of Louisville’s Central Park and in our classrooms through the mission of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.  There have been hundreds of starry nights in the park where over the crickets’ chamber music thousands have experienced the melodic iambic pentameter written hundreds of years ago.

The audience in the park is made up of those who are old, young, families, couples, rich, poor, educated and uneducated; not unlike the original audiences of Shakespeare’s work.  They all stroll through the park and find themselves taken to another time; a love story, a tragedy or comedy.  Never mind not understanding every word spoken, the story is told and the audience understands what’s going on through the amazing set, costumes and expressions of the actors.

In Kentucky classrooms each year nearly 75,000 students not only experience the works of Shakespeare, but in many situations have an opportunity to discuss his works and how their themes still apply.  Kentucky Shakespeare’s educational programs are available for grades K-12.  For the high school students who have Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as required reading, having the production come to them helps solidify the story and it’s themes.

The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival has been producing Shakespeare’s plays in the park for over 50 years.  It’s free to attend but not free to produce.  This Kentucky gem needs our help to sustain the professional productions in the park and plan for additional productions.  Right now through the Power 2 Give program your gift is matched!  So, if you think your gift won’t matter, it will!  The website is www.power2give.org (choose organization, Kentucky Shakespeare).  Make your donation and watch it go twice as far toward the goal.

You may still be thinking that William Shakespeare and his 1700 invented words are for those uppity folks who attend theatre and cotillion, remember what Ben Johnson, a friendly rival of Shakespeare’s, said, “He was not of an age, but for all time!”

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to invest in the future of Kentucky Shakespeare.  To learn more visit their website, www.kyshakespeare.com.