Shakespeare comes to MSU
Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company performs “Henry IV, Part 1” at RCAH Theatre in Snyder and Phillips halls on Friday. The performance was a part of the Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference.
From researching the meaning behind his plays to learning how to speak in iambic pentameter for the first time, students and community members have been coming MSU to better understand William Shakespeare’s plays since last week.
Grand Rapids resident Kat Hermes, her Shakespearean vest bursting at the seams from her pillow-stuffed gut, stepped onto the stage of the RCAH Theatre in Snyder and Phillips halls on Friday to act in Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company’s rendition of “Henry IV, Part 1.”
The performance was part of the Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference, which was held Thursday through Saturday. This is the first year MSU has hosted the conference, which featured keynote speakers and performances by The American Shakespeare Collective and Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company.
University of Chicago associate professor of English Bradin Cormack and Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences professor of English Emily Bartels were the keynote speakers in attendance.
In addition to speeches by keynote speakers, panels were held and both graduate and undergraduate students were able to present their research on Shakespearean works at the conference.
English graduate student Amber True said she enjoyed hearing Cormack’s analysis of ethical actions in Shakespearean text.
“Everyone here is extremely well-informed,” True said. “There are a lot of unique views.”
Eight-year-old Pittsburgh resident Eva Henericks said she enjoyed how the actors interacted with the audience during “Henry IV, Part 1.”
As Henericks sat in the row on the side of the stage, Grand Rapids resident and actress Heather Folkvord sat down next to her, dressed in character, to scoff at another actress as she spoke.
“I felt like it was really happening,” Henericks said. “It was really fun to see the show and interact with the actors.”
Last week and this week, actors from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada helped MSU and high school students understand and perform the playwright’s works.
More than 400 years since Shakespeare’s plays were performed in the Globe Theatre, MSU students still have questions about the meaning of his plays.
“For many of them, it’s almost a foreign language,” said Andrea Jackson, the festival’s education director. “Either (students) didn’t have much (exposure) in high school, or they were just sitting at a desk and reading it as literature.”
Actors will be visiting Department of Theatre classes, as well as psychology and other classes, to teach students about the meaning of Shakespeare through performance.
“(Shakespeare) was never meant to be read,” teaching artist and professional actor Anthony Malarky said. “It was meant to be performed.”
Students will learn techniques used at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and have the opportunity to work with professional actors.
With experience in Shakespearean theatre, students will be better-prepared to find work after college, Jackson said.
“The more tricks they have in their bag, the more flexible they are, and the more comprehensive their education is, the more chances they have of being a working actor,” she said.