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London Stage actors, students to perform in two-month-long Shakespeare festival

| Friday, August 22, 2014

Students and professional actors will take the stage together throughout August and September to perform Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing and The Merry Wives of Windsor as part of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival (NDSF), an annual event that spans two months and connects students, actors and the community.

This year is a milestone for the NDSF, Grant Mudge, the Ryan producing artistic director for the festival, said. It not only marks the event’s 15th year at Notre Dame, but also the 150th anniversary of the first full production of a Shakespeare play on campus and the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.

PrinceHarry&FalstaffPhoto Courtesy of Aaron Nichols

Henry IV, the first Shakespeare play to be performed in its entirety at Notre Dame, was an obvious choice for this year’s Professional Company show, Mudge said. The play presents a moral dilemma to its characters, he said.

“Henry IV is about Prince Henry choosing his path in life, between [Sir John] Falstaff’s way of life and that of his father—a sort of severe rigor of justice and the law—versus a life of licentiousness and drunken debauchery,” Mudge said.

Actors from the London Stage, a group of five professional actors from the London Theatre, will perform Much Ado About Nothing, Mudge said. 

Senior Guillermo Alonso, who plays Poins and Feeble in Henry IV and Bardolph in The Merry Wives of Windsor highlighted the unique experience the festival provides to Notre Dame and the community.

“The main-stage show will allow audiences to experience a full-fledged professional production of Shakespeare, such as the one you might experience by going to the British National Theatre,” Alonso said. “The festival really offers a very unique theatrical experience.” 

Sophomore Helena Petlick, the stage manager for Merry Wives of Windsor and the assistant stage manager for Henry IV, said that the festival gives students a chance to experience theater in a way they never have before. 

“Students can go into the theatre right on campus and can engage with professional actors that have performed on Broadway and have acted in films in Hollywood,” Petlick said. 

Petlick believes seeing a live performance will lead students to see Shakespeare differently.

“Unfortunately, there’s a preconceived notion that one has to be a scholar or English major to understand and enjoy Shakespeare, and that’s just not true,” Petlick said. 

Alonso said he also hoped the festival will give students a deeper appreciation of Shakespeare.

“Students going to the festival will be able to witness just how malleable Shakespeare really is, and hopefully it will make them appreciate the genius behind the Bard.”

A free performance of Merry Wives of Windsor will be held for students on August 25 at 7 p.m. in front of the Main Building. Henry IV will be performed from August 21-31 and Much Ado About Nothing will be performed from September 17-19 at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased by visiting performingarts.nd.edu or by calling 574-631-2800. Additional information on the NDSF can be found at shakespeare.nd.edu.

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