Elizabethan England and modern North Carolina may seem vastly different and incompatible, but in the warm glow of a summer evening they combine into something magical. The group making this magic happen is called Sweet Tea Shakespeare. It is a theatre project supported by Fayetteville State University, and this summer it will perform Taming of the Shrew in The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex.
Taming of the Shrew is a Shakespearian comedy that was written in the early 1590s. It is one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays and has been adapted into many forms.
“This particular story has been adapted for the screen in a film featuring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and a Broadway musical formally known as Kiss Me, Kate. The play essentially tells the story of the ups and downs of a courtship and marriage in its initial stages,” says Greg Fiebig, the show’s director.
Though arranged marriages may seem archaic in our modern culture, the themes of the play are still incredibly relevant. Kylie Mask, the actress portraying Bianca provides insight by saying, “I definitely think that a modern audience can connect to and enjoy this show. The themes in the play have much to do with positions in society and family ties, which are still very relevant today. In this play, societal status has a direct correlation with the happiness of certain characters and how well they live. The battle of finding one’s place in society and trying to improve their life is something I feel almost anyone can relate to. A second reoccurring theme is the relationship between parents and their children. The play shows what expectations children are held to by their parents for the sake of improving the lives of all in the family, as well as the lengths parents will go to in order to help. That aspect of family life is certainly one that many deal with in modern times.”
One of the most unique aspects of a Sweet Tea Shakespeare production is the venue. Taking classical plays and performing them in an intimate outdoor setting changes the actor and audience dynamic. Taming of the Shrew will be presented outside by the Poe House in the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. Sitting on blankets close to the stage truly makes the performance an engaging and personal experience. It is also very similar to how common people would have seen the play in its original performances, standing close to the stage in the Globe Theatre.
“The venue allows for a closer relationship between the actors and the audience than a traditional theater setting does. I am looking forward to taking advantage of that fact with a few of the scenes in the play,” Mask says.
Fiebig adds that the venue allows for a very laid back experience that facilitates the audience not only enjoying the play, but each other. Audience members are expected to bring their own seating. Blankets are recommended for sitting near the stage in the grass; lawn chairs are recommended for sitting on the brick patio.
Taming of The Shrew is on stage July 16-20 at 7 p.m. daily. The show is preceded by live music and entertainment to facilitate audience interaction. Pets and outside food are not permitted, though picnic style food and drink will be served before the show. Beer and wine are included. In case of rain, performances will be moved to St. Michael’s The Archangel’s Church next to the Poe House. Tickets are $12. Senior and military tickets are $10. Student tickets are $7.50, FSU student tickets are $5. Tickets for children 6-12 years old are $5. Tickets are available by visiting www.sweatteachakespeare.com or by calling 672-1724. The venue, The Poe House, is located at 206 Bradford Ave. For more information visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/ncmcf/Events.aspx or http://www.sweetteashakespeare.com/current-season/.