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.

OU Blog: What would like to say to those thinking about a Theatre major?

O’Reilly: I think that if they are considering Theatre major Oglethorpe University is the place to be. The Theatre Program here gives opportunities one can not find in bigger universities. Theatre is not only for actors but it can also teach students about scenic and costume design, and Oglethorpe University and Georgia Shakespeare present unique opportunity to work with theater professionals. The students that helped with the tech side of the production have gained experience that makes them prepared to work in future professional productions. In their junior year Theatre major students have the chance to participate in Georgia Shakespeare’s summer intern program, which gives them real life experience with our summer company. Past interns have gone on to be employed full time with the company. I think that Oglethorpe University is a real player among college theatres and possibly one of students’ best choices.

The full cast includes OU students Katie Huntington ’14, Elizabeth Beesley ’13, Weston Manders ’13, Seth Langer ’13, Antonio Mantera ’15, and Kristin Butler ’14. The running crew are Laura Roberts ’15 and Heather Burgess ’15. Make up and hair by Sengens Amy-Cupp ’14.

Director Allen O’Reilly, Georgia Shakespeare’s education director, has been affiliated with the company for 19 years as an actor and teacher. He was made an Associate Artist in 1992, and became Education Director in 2004.  Since that time he has directed the High School Touring productions and also co-directed several Family Classic productions.  In addition, Allen had written and directed adaptations for Georgia Shakespeare’s elementary and residency programs.  Allen majored in Theatre at Northern Arizona University, and received his professional theatre training at Actor’s Lab Arizona and at The Alliance Theatre Intern Program. (http://www.gashakespeare.org/staff)

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