American Shakespeare Center Returns to Sewanee with Two Plays

Arts & Entertainment

The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will be back on the Sewanee campus from Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 6-8. The visit will include two public performances in Guerry Auditorium as well as theater workshops with Sewanee students.

Thursday evening, Feb. 6, will feature their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (pre-show music at 7 p.m., play at 7:30 p.m.); Saturday, Feb. 8, will feature their production of “Imogen” (ASC’s retitled “Cymbeline”), once again with pre-show music at 7 p.m. and the play at 7:30 p.m. Both performances are free and open to the public.

On Friday morning, ASC will engage students (grades six and up) from Franklin and Grundy County schools with a special 90-minute production of “Dream.”

ASC’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” wades into a bayou of masked hobgoblins, enchanting nymphs, and imps who sing the blues. Featuring the oblivious Bottom, plucky Helena, and mischievous Puck, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” boasts some of Shakespeare’s most beloved and iconic characters. The production was inspired by 1930s New Orleans.

“Imogen” is a tale of romance and adventure perhaps best known as “Shakespeare’s fairytale.” King Cymbeline promises to marry his daughter Imogen to his stepson Cloten, while Imogen has secretly eloped with her best friend, Posthumus. Disguises, mistaken identity, a missing head, and nefarious plots complicate this tale of love and purity. In the production of Imogen, contemporary culture clashes with a world of kings, queens, and princesses.

The American Shakespeare Center’s actor-musicians play live music before the show and during intermission, covering modern classics that riff on the themes of each play. ASC’s productions are intimate in scale, utilizing Shakespeare’s staging conditions (universal lighting, minimal sets, actors playing multiple roles, cross-gender casting, and live music) to blend Shakespeare’s stagecraft with a modern sensibility.

The University of the South is a charter member of American Shakespeare Center’s academic leadership consortium. The partnership brings the company’s national tour to the University each year, and ASC hosts Sewanee students and scholars at its home theater, Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.