Part educational workshop and part cultural experience, the inaugural Out Damned Spot Shakespeare Festival is debuting in Boulder City.
Presented by the Shakespeare Institute of Nevada in partnership with the Boulder City Library, the festival includes an eight-week workshop that culminates in two performances for the public.
“There is an educational component to the workshop. Participants will learn a lot about the life and times of (William) Shakespeare, and why these works are the way they are, how to understand them — so it’s not just get a part and rehearse it and put on a play,” said Dan Decker, artistic director of the Shakespeare Institute.
“It’s much more in-depth and comprehensive. It’s an educational experience as well as a cultural experience,” he said.
“People should not be afraid of it — because they hear the word Shakespeare and get intimidated, but they shouldn’t be. They’re going to come and it will feel more like playing than working. It’s painless education,” said Lynn Schofield-Dahl, director of Boulder City Library, who holds a bachelor’s degree in theater and worked at a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Odessa, Texas.
Weekly Saturday workshops begin Sept. 6; they are tentatively set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The sessions will conclude with performances scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nov. 8 in the amphitheater outside the library, weather permitting.
The performances will feature a compilation of Shakespeare’s works, including segments from plays, soliloquies and possibly sonnets.
Each person who enrolls in the free workshop will be given a small part to work on and perform, Decker said.
“People will get small, bite-sized pieces they can easily master in the workshop’s time,” he said.
The workshop is open to everyone, but performers should be 10 and older. No previous acting experience is required.
According to Decker, one reason to produce works by Shakespeare is to help put Americans in touch with their native language: English. Its use erodes daily, and he said he constantly sees young people excited when hearing their native language to its fullest potential.
Schofield-Dahl said live theater also helps introduce young children to the poetry of the language, as it was written by Shakespeare.
“The excitement of live theater is also without parallel in their worlds today. When they see actual three-dimensional human beings interacting with this language, you understand why Shakespeare has been so vital to our culture for so long,” Decker added.
Schofield-Dahl said presenting the workshops and performances is an ideal way for people to learn more about Shakespeare’s works. Although they are often read in classes, the works were created to be performed and watched. This allows people to better understand the words’ artistic nature.
Small children are especially encouraged to to see the performance to be introduced to the language and live theater.
“Where better to start than with the classics?” Schofield-Dahl said. “It’s for those who haven’t met Shakespeare or haven’t met him in a while.”
She added that she hopes this stirs up interest in live theater in Boulder City.
Schofield-Dahl, who is part of an Elizabethan-era Renaissance fair in Bristol, Wis., and performs as Elinor Poole, the Ladye Fettiplace, will present Hamlet’s speech to actors at the festival.
She and Decker said the speech is really Shakespeare’s direction to actors and is typically an intrinsic part of college acting classes.
“Boulder City has lots of arts and festivals, but no Shakespeare festival,” Decker said, noting that most cities the size of Boulder City offer some type of Shakespearean activities. “Even Kabul (Afghanistan) has Shakespeare. In its 400-year history, Shakespeare has never been more popular than now.”
They hope the inaugural workshop/festival will become an annual event.
Several community organizations are sponsoring the festival, allowing the workshops and performances to be offered at no cost to participants and spectators. Sponsors include the library, Boulder City Sunrise Rotary Club, Copper Mountain Solar Facility and Boulder City Friends of the Arts.
In conjunction with the workshop, Schofield-Dahl has arranged for sewers who are affiliated with the Desert Quilters of Nevada to participate in a costume contest. The quilters focus on fashions and they will be provided with fabrics and patterns. They are encouraged to create wearable works of art with their embellishments, she said.
For those who are interested in some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of live theater, Decker and Schofield-Dahl said they also need property handlers, dressers, actor wranglers, set builders, special-effects artists and sound technicians. Those who specialize in social media also are needed.
For additional information or to register for the workshop, call 702-293-1281.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.