RALEIGH—Twenty current students and recent graduates of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian State University participated in two different productions performed as part of the “Shakespeare Marathon: 38 Plays in Five Days” at the North Carolina Museum of History. Over a 118-hour period of non-stop, round-the-clock theatre, every one of Shakespeare’s plays was performed live in the sequential order of their writing.
The event marked the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death and began at noon on April 23 – Shakespeare’s birthday and, coincidentally, the date on which died – and concluded at approximately 6 a.m. on April 28 with performances occurring every three hours of the day and night.
Playcrafters, one of the oldest student clubs on campus, and In/Visible Theatre, a Boone-based professional theatre company associated with the Department of Theatre and Dance in an ongoing, collaborative, mutually-beneficial partnership, represented the university at the event. Playcrafters drew the right to stage one of Shakespeare’s most popular and frequently produced comedies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by senior theatre major Sarah Duttlinger, while In/Visible Theatre presented one of the Bard’s history plays, “Richard II,” under the direction of artistic director Dr. Derek Davidson.
The Shakespeare Marathon was conceived and executed by Raleigh-based Burning Coal Theatre Company in partnership with the N.C. Museum of History. Each play was given a staged reading by a different theatre company from North Carolina with titles drawn by lottery in a selection process conducted via Skype. Each reading was also live streamed and will soon be available for viewing at http://www.burningcoal.org.
In an article published in the Raleigh News and Observer, Michelle Carr, the museum’s grant writer who helped coordinate the marathon, called the event an adventure, noting every show had an audience ranging from five to 100 people while many others watched via live stream. “People around the globe were watching,” she told correspondent Lori D. R. Wiggins. “We’re very excited about what we’ve accomplished.”
Current students who participated in one or both plays included Glenn Driskill, Sarah Duttlinger, Logan Frazier, Elly Galbraith, Joseph Hermann, Breanne Hollis, T.J. Lewis, Ian Lawrence, Kaitlyn Lyon, Calvin Noble, Lauren Pavlacka, Kenny Petroski, Tyler Pope, Aaron Scotch, Natalia Soto and Jenna Tonsor, along with graduates Jacob Dailey, Mark Suggs and Molly Winstead. Theatre Professor Derek Gagnier also performed in both plays along with other professional artists from the High Country region.
“Our students participated alongside such flagship theatres in North Carolina as Flat Rock Playhouse and PlayMakers Repertory Company, along with many prominent professional, academic and community theatres from across the state,” said Keith Martin, the John M. Blackburn Distinguished Professor of Theatre, who accompanied the group on the trip to Raleigh. “I saw over a dozen of the 38 productions, either in person or online, and am proud to say that our students represented the university and our community quite well. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that none of us will ever forget.”
In/Visible Theatre and the Department of Theatre and Dance, along with support from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, provided funding for student involvement in the event.
Founded in 1933 by Cratis Williams and Rogers Whitener, Playcrafters is a venerable campus organization open to all students who are interested in theatre. Their social activities include master classes and workshops, movie nights, tailgating, an end-of-the-semester banquet and other activities. Most notably, the club sponsors an annual new play festival of original one-act plays written, directed, designed and performed entirely by students.
About In/Visible Theatre
Founded in 2012, In/Visible Theatre presents plays about unseen people, unheard stories and unasked questions. It believes that theatre, when well done, has the power to strengthen individuals and the community. Proud to be located in Boone, In/Visible Theatre engages in an artistic exploration of what it means to live in a growing college town in Central Appalachia.
About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance is housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to provide liberal arts educational opportunities including B.A. degrees in dance studies and theatre arts. The department also values the opportunity to offer coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Vital to the support of this mission is a dynamic co-curricular production program that provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region. The departmental philosophy is to support the university’s liberal arts environment through a balanced and integrated emphasis on teaching, creative activity, scholarship and service.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.