This fall, counting my Labor Day Shakespeare road trip, I had the privilege of seeing thirteen plays (and I’m going to fit in at least two more before it’s officially winter).
I saw plays from nationally renowned companies. I saw college plays. I saw plays by small professional troupes that are doing some truly amazing work.
Part of this was for my work with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (Region 2). KCACTF began fifty years ago as an effort to bring outside respondents (professionals and academics) to see college productions and tell the student actors, designers, and technicians what they experienced. there is also a regional festival, and part of the role of the respondent is to invite students to come, recommend plays for inclusion in the festival, and nominate students for various awards and competitions. In recent years, KCACTF has encouraged respondents to foster a dialog with the students, which I’ve found energizing. What a great thing, to be able to see a play and then ask questions about all the pieces that most audiences will never know: How did you learn to look competent at soccer? What was the process of choreographing that movement? What does it feel like to do a play from the 1940s, set in the 1900s, as a 21st century person? I love getting to engage with a cast this way.
Another piece of it was inspired by Sarah Smith and Eric Minton‘s Canon Project. Eric saw 42 plays at 42 theaters in 2018, and is writing a book about it. Sometimes, when I hear about someone doing something crazy and impressive, I think, “I wish I were the kind of person who could do that!” and then I think, “Wait, why wouldn’t I be the kind of person who could do that?” I can’t travel coast to coast for the bard, but I certainly can go out of my way to see more shows than I do, particularly if (1) I have friends involved with those shows who have offered me tickets and sometimes even a place to stay, and (2) they are near theaters I’m visiting anyway for KCACTF or cities where I’m going for my tech job. Three of the plays I ended up seeing this fall were with Sarah and Eric.
Lastly, I know that the best way to get better at making theater is to see as much theater as I can. I am lucky in that I get to see a lot of shows for free or pretty inexpensively through my work and volunteer connections. I’m glad that I have seen all of these shows, and I am grateful for the mental space to pause and reflect on them.
I’ll be writing about each show over the next couple of weeks. I’m not writing criticism per se, for lots of reasons. But I’m going to write about each show, where it was, who I connected with, and what I learned from it. I learn something from every show I ever see.
Plays I saw/plan to see in Fall 2018 are:
- Love’s Labour’s Lost at Elm Shakespeare
- As You Like It at Shakespeare & Company
- Medea at Randolph College
- As You Like It at American Shakespeare Center
- Oklahoma! at Rider University
- As You Like It at Arcadia University
- The Wolves at the University of Virginia
- Men on Boats at Bridgewater College
- Tick, Tick…Boom! at York College
- Duchess of Malfi at Brave Spirits Theater
- The Changeling at Brave Spirits Theater
- Henry V at Faction of Fools
- Pericles at Harrisburg Shakespeare Company
- Richard III at American Shakespeare Center (upcoming)
- The Secret in the Wings at West Liberty University (upcoming)