Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Acts of Shakespeare

Interested in acting? Beginning this September, there will be a staged reading series in Chattanooga State's amphitheatre where Chattanooga State and UTC students will perform Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Students interested in participating should visit the library's mobile classroom this August 31st for an informational meeting with Evans Jarnefeldt, Theatre Professor.

To learn a little bit more about the series, we spoke with Prof. Jarnefeldt:

1. Tell us about the Acts of Shakespeare reading series. What should students expect at a "staged reading?"

"Staged reading" means we won't sit behind tables and mutter through old words. Starting September 1st we will get on our feet and explore Much Ado About Nothing one act a week, for five weeks. Also, "staged" doesn't mean meticulously directed. This is a student driven experience. Participants will be asked to consider how the forces of language and circumstance inform movement. Narrowing the scope to one act per week gives us plenty of time for interactive exploration, which is really what interests me. In fact, I almost subtitled this project "a staged experiment".

2. How did you get involved in this project? Tell us a little about what you do at Chattanooga State.

I am an Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Humanities & Fine Arts department. I created Acts of Shakespeare as a way for students from Chatt State & UTC to come together and explore the work of Shakespeare, in a low-pressure and collegial environment. Having taught Acting in both Theatre departments, I see the valuable and unique perspectives that each student group brings. Acting is a great avenue for that sharing.

3. Who will be performing?

Attend our August 31st informational meeting if you want to be considered for the core company. 6 students (3 from each campus) will be cast in roles in Much Ado About Nothing. In addition to having defined roles, these students will participate every week and be central to our exploration. That being said, ANYONE can participate. Every Tuesday from 4:30pm-6pm we will meet at amphitheater. Attendees will read the remaining roles and then fully participate in our explorations. Also, all performance needs an audience, especially the experimental kind! So if you want to hear Shakespeare aloud or are curious to discovery what I mean by "exploration" and "experiment", then come have a look-see.

4. Who can and should attend this meeting?

Anyone interested in participating. We will have an ice-breaker activity, which will involve Chatt State attendees and UTC core company members. You'll get to know more about this great Shakespearean comedy, as well as our process (including dates, times, and locations). From the pool of students that have no time conflicts we will cast our core company. Anyone else, with more limited availability, will be invited to participate as much as his/her schedule allows.

5. What are your future plans for the series?

Hopefully, Acts of Shakespeare will become a true series and happen every Fall. That said, we can't just stop with Shakespeare. Reading/exploring theatre masterpieces from a variety of playwrights is important to our campus's cultural enrichment. I have already discussed the possibility of similar projects with Rachael Falu and Juan Santillana, focusing on the works of August Wilson and Lope De Vega respectively. August Wilson is one of America's most important playwrights. His Pittsburgh Cycle is a collection of ten plays that unabashedly reveal African-America life in each decade from 1900 to 2000. Lope De Vega is a hilarious and prolific Spanish playwright, who has made claim to having penned more than a thousand plays. This dwarfs Shakespeare's output of thirty-seven plays. So if you are interested in exploring, not only Shakespeare, but also other giants of theatre history, attend our August 31st meeting.

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