'Evening of Shakespeare' to regale with love stories, sonnets


^ Posted Feb. 15

By Josette Keelor

Valentine's Day is over, but that's no reason to let love subside.

Through the immortal works of William Shakespeare, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley will team with Shenandoah University to present "An Evening of Shakespeare and Love: A Selection of Scenes and Sonnets" beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.

The collaboration is the second for the university and the museum, after its fall collection of cabaret performances, said Julie Armel, director of marketing and PR at the museum.

""It was an evening of musical theater, and musical theater students from Shenandoah Conservatory performed a selection of beloved Broadway standards," she said. "And that was our first joint event at the museum."

Carolyn Coulson-Grigsby, director of the Shakespeare collection, called Friday's performance a bookend to the cabaret night. Both are part of the Shenandoah Conservatory in the Community initiative, she said.

"I think it's important to build those relationships between the conservatory ... and other groups and places in town," she said.

"This is kind of an outgrowth," she said. Despite the success of the evening of cabaret performances, she said it was difficult choosing scenes from Shakespeare's wide range of work to select only the most obvious of love vignettes.

"It's hard to extract things from out of their context," she said, calling it interesting "how little romantic love there is in Shakespeare."

Ultimately, she chose to feature scenes from "Twelfth Night," "Romeo and Juliet," "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," "The Two Noble Kinsmen" and "As You Like It" interspersed with presentations of more than a dozen of Shakespeare's classic sonnets like "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" and "When My Love Swears That She is Made of Truth."

On the subject of love and Shakespeare, people tend to think only of "Romeo and Juliet" and the more well known sonnets, said Coulson-Grigsby, but that's a very small percentage of the work as a whole, she said.

When working on a project like this, she said, "You get playful discussions about what is love." Some works are about separation, being away from those you love, she said. But some of her favorites are about friendship.

"Love makes people do silly things," she said.

In the 45-minute presentation, she said the performers will combine musical theater and acting to "approach love from all these different angles."

The SU students who will perform the works were even more difficult to select, she said, because they could not be the same students who would perform Shakespeare's "Henry IV: Part I" on Feb. 14 to 17 at SU's Glaize Studio Theatre.

"It's all kind of like, 'OK, which students can I use and what fits them?'" said Coulson-Grigsby.

Junior theater major Mariea Terrell has been rehearsing the jailer's daughter's soliloquy from "Two Noble Kinsmen" and Sonnet 30.

She said she believes she was chosen to be a part of the show because she took a period acting styles class.

However, "not all of us are in the class," she said. And the show itself is not for class credit, which Coulson-Grigsby said made it even more challenging to find acting students who had the time to devote to rehearsing.

Though Shakespeare lived and wrote during the 16th and early 17th centuries, his work is still very much a part of modern culture, and Terrell said the chosen selections for Friday night's performances are "very powerful and relatable."

"It's very exciting," she said, "to bring that to another audience."

Armel said the next performance will be a musical journey through the history of the saxophone, with students from the conservatory's saxophone studio, on April 19.

"I think it's a wonderful partnership between the university and the museum," she said. It's a way to introduce theatergoers to the museum and museum aficionados to the talent at SU, she added. Also, "it's a fun, inexpensive night out."

"An Evening of Shakespeare and Love: A Selection of Scenes and Sonnets," will take place at The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, at 901 Amherst St., Winchester at 7 and 8 p.m. Friday. Admission will be $5 for adults and free to MSV members, SU students with identification and children ages 12 and under. The museum will be open from 4 to 9 for the event, with beer and wine available for purchase in the lobby for $5 per glass from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and special dinner menu at the Museum Café. For more information, call 540-662-1473 or visit www.theMSV.org.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com


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