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2013 News Releases

American Shakespeare Center to present free performance at Longwood

August 19, 2013

The cast of The Merry Wives of Windsor
The cast of The Merry Wives of Windsor includes, from left, Bridget Rue (as Mistress Page), Rick Blunt (Falstaff) and Stephanie Holladay Earl (Mistress Ford). Photo credit Michael Bailey

The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will present a free performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor in Longwood University's Jarman Auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7:30 p.m.

The performance by the internationally acclaimed theatre company is being presented jointly by Longwood's Department of English and Modern Languages and Hampden-Sydney College.

Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance. Beginning Aug. 26, up to four tickets may be reserved online at http://www.etix.com (type "Longwood University" in the search bar), from Hampden-Sydney College's Wilson Center (434-223-7077, mreed@hsc.edu) or from the Longwood Box Office (434-395-2474, boxoffice@longwood.edu), located on the first floor of the Center for Communication Studies and Theatre. Tickets not claimed by 7:15 p.m. Sept. 17 will be available at Jarman on a first-come basis.

"The American Shakespeare Center is authentic to the original time period in a way that is engaging for a modern audience," said Dr. Robin Smith, assistant professor of English at Longwood. "The way they perform Shakespeare makes it accessible. Anyone can figure out what is going on-get the language and the dirty jokes."

This first ASC production at Longwood is the result of a collaboration between Smith and Dr. Curtis Smith, Myers Professor and director of the Freshman Leadership Program in H-SC's Wilson Center for Leadership, who chairs the ASC board of trustees. "I'm delighted that something I care about so much is coming here," said Curtis Smith.

The Merry Wives of Windsor, a comedy, is described as "an Elizabethan 'I Love Lucy'" in The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard by Norrie Epstein: "It's one of those plays that work better in performance than on the page, since it's filled with sight gags and spoken humor, including outrageous accents and bawdy malapropisms, that are hilarious on stage."

The mission of the ASC, founded in 1988 and based in Staunton, is to "recover the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare's theatre, language, and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education."

On the afternoon of the Longwood performance, ASC cast members will conduct workshops (not open to the public) at Longwood and Hampden-Sydney. The former, for pre-service English teachers, is on how to use performance to teach Shakespeare to middle and high-school students. The latter, on leadership, will include performances by actors portraying Shakespearean characters.

In the spring of 2012, Dr. Robin Smith and Dr. Gena Southall, associate professor of English at Longwood, took student members of the Longwood Association of Teachers of English to a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Staunton at the ASC's Blackfriars Playhouse-the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's original indoor theatre.