“Actors from the London Stage” to perform this week
Courtney Becker | Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Due to its status as the American base for Actors From the London Stage (AFTLS), Notre Dame is supplementing its Shakespeare’s First Folio exhibit, in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, with workshops and performances throughout the week from this spring’s AFTLS Company.
Scott Jackson, Executive director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame, said the company’s typical schedule was readjusted this year to coincide with the University hosting the First Folio.
“This tour is exceptional because we’ve had one cast and one show tour for both the fall and the spring,” Jackson said. “Usually it’s a different company, five actors and a different show for the fall and the spring. This year, we shifted that because of everything that’s going on this month, all the Shakespeare-related activities.”
Jackson said in addition to the First Folio exhibit at Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame will host two Shakespeare conferences, with which AFTLS will be involved.
“We’ve got the First Folio exhibit at the Hesburgh Library and we have two big conferences coming up,” he said. “The Shakespeare in Prisons: in Practice Conference from the 25th to the 27th of January, followed directly by the 26th annual Shakespeare in Theatre Conference from the 27th to the 30th of January. AFTLS hangs around next week and they’re attending these two conferences.”
Jackson said this AFTLS cast is particularly equipped to participate in the Shakespeare in Prisons conference, which will “focus on practical approaches for working with non-traditional and incarcerated populations,” according to the College of Arts and Letters events office, due to their time volunteering with him at the Westville Correctional Center last September.
“I actually teach an Acting Shakespeare course at the Westville Correctional Center, and every year I’ve tried to take AFTLS in for a week-long residency there at Westville,” Jackson said. “These guys did that back in September, and so they’re going to bring that experience to the Shakespeare in Prisons: in Practice Conference from the 25th through the 27th.”
In addition to community service work at Westville, AFTLS is also using the First Folio exhibit as an opportunity to carry out “the largest outreach effort on behalf of Shakespeare at Notre Dame in [its] history,” Jackson said.
“This week, as opposed to teaching in University classrooms as they normally would do, [AFTLS] are leading 90-minute … active encounters with the First Folio with over 1,000 area middle and high school students,” he said. “Their part of it is a 45-minute workshop. We have about eight different classes a day, going from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Hesburgh Library, and then in the meantime, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is opening at Washington Hall.”
Jackson said the South Bend community has also found ways to incorporate the AFTLS visit into its regularly scheduled events.
“The South Bend County Library system does a program called One Book, One Michiana each year, and this year they’ve chosen ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ since we’re in the middle of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, his legacy, as well as the fact that we have these performances coming up,” he said.
In addition to the shows at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week, Jackson said AFTLS will give one more performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on January 29th, which will also be open to the public.
“From the 27th through the 30th, they’ll actually be performing for the delegates at the Shakespeare in Theatre Association Conference, which is going to be about 170 artistic managing and education directors from Shakespeare Companies all around the globe,” he said. “That show is open to the public as well, because Washington Hall has a lot more seats than 170.”
Jackson said Notre Dame is blessed to be able to experience so many different tributes to Shakespeare during an infrequent and globally celebrated event.
“Notre Dame is in this very privileged position to be one of the most internationally visible launches of this global celebration of Shakespeare, 1616 to 2016, his 400th legacy,” Jackson said. “As such, we have a whole host of complementary events going on right now.
“Shakespeare’s kind of at the center of campus conversation right now, and that’s because the Folio’s here, we’ve got all of these student workshops going on, the conference is happening, we have collaborations with the opera and the symphony, all this stuff that folks should take advantage of because these celebrations only come around once every 50 years,” Jackson said.