This past winter, Door Shakespeare became a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association. The Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA) was established to provide a forum for the artistic, managerial, educational leadership for theaters primarily involved with the production of the works of William Shakespeare; to discuss issues and methods of work, resources, and information; and to act as an advocate for Shakespearean productions and training.
In the latter half of January, I headed to Stratford, Ontario as a very new member of the association for my first STA Annual Conference event held at the renowned Stratford Festival Theatre. I landed in Canada amidst a blizzard. Needless to say, the representatives from American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI, and I all fared much better than the attendees from the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival.
Day one was filled with orientation and introductions. As I stood up among the hundreds of directors, both artistic and administrative, of theatres from across the globe to introduce myself, and Door Shakespeare, I was intimidated to say the least. It was quite a shock to go from working alone in my office during the off-season, to being immersed in a network of artists and administrators who work tirelessly to participate in and promote the lasting and celebrated work of William Shakespeare.
As I gave my five-minute introduction, I felt my personal commitment to lead Door Shakespeare and serve the Door County Community, become infused with momentum. I was introducing this organization to an important community and claiming our place among industry professionals. It was exhilarating.
The conference was a very formative and pivotal experience for Door Shakespeare. From sessions regarding budgeting and marketing, to workshops focused on the poetry and phrasing of Shakespeare, I spent four days soaking in every story, recommendation, policy, procedure, and piece of advice I could from leaders of organizations that I hold in the highest esteem. I listened to Giles Block, Director of Text and Speech at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, silence an entire room of artists by stating that Shakespeare’s writing in the form of iambic pentameter is simply, “the rhythm of the heartbeat, written to accommodate the space of the lungs.” Giles stripped away the intimidating and academic aspect of Shakespeare’s poetry by focusing on the truthful humanity behind the phrasing and writing.
This simple and authentic approach to Shakespeare made everyone one of us in the room, from novice to scholar, feel connected to these timeless, celebrated stories. By simplifying and humanizing the work of Shakespeare, Giles was able to make the writing and context palpably relevant to each participant in the room. We were all on the edge of our chairs watching Giles work with the members of the Stratford Festival Theatre acting company.
The annual conference uncovered so much of what I want to see happen for Door Shakespeare and the many artistic influences I want to bring to the Door County community. I returned from Canada with notebooks filled with to-do lists, contacts, ideas, and visions for this season and future seasons to come. I am tackling the to-do lists as we grow and continuing to reach out to the mentors and colleagues that are now helping Door Shakespeare develop. Most importantly, after this year of planning, traveling, and researching, I am proud to present Door Shakespeare’s new mission statement:
Our mission is to provide relevant and entertaining productions of the works of William Shakespeare and other classical playwrights through artistic excellence in both the conception and performance of our plays, and to enhance the theatrical experience through interactive educational opportunities designed for audiences of all ages, thereby creating a common ground to experience these celebrated traditions.
We hope you will join us this season for our featured productions of King Lear and The Comedy of Errors, and that you will also attend our Will-In-The-Woods education series that provides a variety of educational opportunities and events designed to welcome patrons of all ages to the powerful tradition of Shakespeare. For tickets, to donate, or to become involved please call 920.839.1500 or visit http://www.doorshakespeare.com.
See you in the Garden!
Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, Inc., which contributes Culture Club throughout the summer season, is a coalition of non-profit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.