Oglethorpe Theatre Presents ‘Bard’s Best!’

The OU Blog recently caught up with  the cast and director of Bard’s Best!, a collaboration between Georgia Shakespeare and the OU Theatre Program that stars a versatile company of six actors performing Shakespeare’s greatest hits. Favorite selections from the Bard’s most beloved plays leap from the page onto the Oglethorpe stage including Hamlet, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing—just to name a few!  Two performances remain: Friday and Saturday, September 23 & 24 at 8:00 p.m.  Free with a Petrel Pass or $7 general admission. Tickets at the door only.

OU Blog: Tell me more about the play.

Allen O’Reilly, director: Bard’s Best! is a wonderful compilation of Shakespeare’s best plays, scenes and monologues…It embellishes the versatility of the actors as they are all cast as more than one character.

OU Blog: What have you enjoyed most about this experience?

O’Reilly: The collaboration between the Theatre program and Georgia Shakespeare has proven to be very beneficial to both the students and the seasoned theater professionals. Many of the students cast in this play are recipients of the Georgia Shakespeare and the James E. Oglethorpe Scholarships, and this production has given them a unique opportunity to work with theatre professionals.

Sengens Amy-Cupp ’14: This experience has been very hands-on. I did all the hair and make up for the show, but along with it I also learned about scenic design.

Laura Roberts ’15: I learned how to operate sound and light board, which are great technical skills to have. Working with the director has also been invaluable experience. He is a professional actor and director, which made him a very good professor.

Seth Langer ’13: It is exciting to think that this play may be a first exposure to Shakespeare, maybe even theatre, for some of the audience members, and I am proud to be part of their experience.

OU Blog: Was Shakespeare a challenge?

O’Reilly: Shakespeare is a difficult material and the language presents a challenge. I am very proud of the achievements of the students. They worked very hard and even spent the summer studying their lines. We gave them the scripts back in May and they came back prepared to work. I am proud to have directed this play, worked with them and to have the Georgia Shakespeare’s name on this production.

Langer: Shakespeare is a lot of fun. It is a challenge but it is also very rewarding at the end. Allen O’Reilly has been amazing as a director and in helping us tackle Shakespeare. It is a challenge but it is not intimidating. I have been able to relate it what we have covered in CORE, and also understand the context of the play better because of CORE. As every OU student knows, CORE relates to everything in life.

OU Blog: Students keep saying how much they have learned from you as a director, Mr. O’Reilly. Would you say they taught you something, too?

O’Reilly: Indeed they did. They met and exceeded my expectations. I hope that my peers will come and see the play and see for themselves that students can be just as prepared as professional actors. They took directions very well and were always ready to take notes. Count on students to have pen and paper handy. This is something professional actors can learn from students.

OU Blog: Why should people come and see the play?

O’Reilly: Shakespeare is better appreciated and understood when on stage—not on paper. His work was made to be performed. This play is geared toward students, to help them understand Shakespeare and take the intimidation out of the equation. Our audience will get to experience the emotions, movement, music and passion that is Shakespeare. Every actor has their shining moment in this play, but at the end of the day it is about showing their work and what they are capable of.

Kristin Butler ’14: This is my first Shakespeare experience as an actress and I now understand the difference between reading Shakespeare and seeing it come to life. There is no comparison. Continue reading

“Spirit of Will” at Oglethorpe

Georgia Shakespeare's Producing Artistic Director Richard Garner (far left) and Board Chair Lauren Kiefer (far right) presented OU with the 2010 Spirit of Will Award. Accepting on behalf of Oglethorpe were (left to right) President Larry Schall and former OU Presidents Larry D. Large, Donald S. Stanton, and Manning M. Pattillo, Jr.

Georgia Shakespeare–the professional theatre-in-residence at Oglethorpe marked its 25th anniversary in 2010.  To celebrate, GA Shakes hosted its annual Bard’s Bash, where revelers “put on the ritz” at the roaring 20’s-themed gala.

At the Bash, Georgia Shakespeare presented its annual Spirit of Will Award to Oglethorpe.  The award honors those who exemplify the passion for the human condition that Shakespeare displayed through his writing, and who courageously advocate for the value of the arts as the ultimate expression of our shared humanity.

Over the past 25 years, GA Shakes and Oglethorpe have forged a model partnership that has both enriched students’ liberal arts experience and enhanced our community’s cultural offerings.

In 2008, OU initiated a Georgia Shakespeare Scholarship for incoming first-year students, based on a competition conducted jointly by OU English professors and GA Shakes associate artists and directors. More and more prospective students are drawn to the unique opportunity for an onsite acting internship.

OU also introduced a minor in Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies, as well as theatre-focused study abroad trips to England.  Theatre classes are often taught by Georgia Shakespeare associate artists–and two of OU’s theatre productions were directed by the artists. Students can work directly with the professional actors and staff, both onstage and behind the scenes. In fact, more than 100 students were involved during the 2009-10 academic year.

While still undergraduates, OU students have the opportunity to earn Equity credits and to work closely with acting professionals.  Oglethorpe offers an education and experience in theatre that is rivaled by few–if any–other liberal arts colleges.