Mary Baldwin’s Master of Letters and Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance Program took on their first outdoor performance May 12-15.
Pericles, produced by the graduate student organization University Wits, was performed under the direction of Colleen Sullivan and featured original music by Dorene Fisher and Angie Barbera, students in the M.Litt. program. The 4-foot 6-inch platform stage was set up in the courtyard of Rose Terrace to mimic the open-air Globe Theatre stage in London. The Wits even encouraged groundling audience members to stand throughout the performance (although most used blankets and lawn chairs).
The University Wits tested their unique skills preparing the production in the Elizabethan touring troupe tradition. Players made the most out of a short rehearsal period, reusable costumes, a simple set, live, original music and audience interaction. Screeching tires, inclement weather and other outdoor “perks” instantly became a part of the play. “Outdoor theatre levels the playing field; it seems to bring the audience and the actors in closer communion, as if we are all in this together,” Sullivan said.
The audience embraced the outdoors production, rain or shine, and made generous donations for future University Wits performances. The “Pay What You Think It’s Worth After The Show” approach ended up paying off, earning the Wits nearly $1,500 in contributions, concessions, and T-shirt sales. “Overall [Pericleswas] a tremendous success and the beginning of a tradition for the University Wits, the M.Litt and MFA program and Mary Baldwin,” Sullivan added.