Turning Glass Shakespeare Produces Festival of Plays

Turning Glass Shakespeare (TGS), the 2014–15 Master of Fine Arts (MFA) company of Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance graduate program, in association with the American Shakespeare Center, announces its MFA Festival. The festival will run March 27–31 and will include all five productions from TGS’s season: the devised show, Little Life; William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and The Winter’s Tale; and Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside.

TGS created Little Life during the first month of their company’s session. Little Life blends text from TGS’s season with music and text from other sources to explore the life cycles of the young heroines in each play. TGS will perform Little Life on March 27 at 6 p.m. at the Masonic Building in downtown Staunton.

One of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy about life, love, death, and the power of family. Set in Virginia and featuring Appalachian music, TGS’s one-hour production, designed as an educational tour, delights audiences both young and old. TGS will perform Twelfth Night on March 28 at 2 p.m. at Masonic and on March 31 at 2 p.m. at the Blackfriars Playhouse. The March 31 performance will include a Q&A session about Appalachian culture with Clyde Jenkins, a White Oak Basket Artisan and Basket Supplier for Colonial Williamsburg.

Romeo & Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays due to its mixture of tragedy, romance, action, and bawdy comedy. As a small-scale tour, TGS’s production uses only six actors as well as minimal props and costumes. This approach challenges the company to find imaginative ways to use actors’ bodies and Shakespeare’s words to tell a story and challenges the audience to use their imaginations to enter the world of the play. TGS will perform Romeo & Juliet on Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. at Masonic and on March 30 at 10:30 a.m. at Blackfriars. A talk back will follow the performance on March 28.

One of Shakespeare’s “romances,” The Winter’s Tale tells a story of loss and redemption that is powerful, funny, and thought-provoking. TGS’s production is set in the 1920s, when European nations were rebuilding after WWI, jazz music reigned, and women all across the Western world fought for the right to vote. TGS will perform The Winter’s Tale on March 29 at 8 p.m. and on March 31 at 8 p.m., both performances at the Blackfriars Playhouse. The performance on March 29 will include an event at 7:30 p.m. in which students from James Madison University will read poems that they have written inspired by The Winter’s Tale. The performance on March 31 will include a loyalty card giveaway during intermission.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, a city comedy, is the company’s Renaissance production. TGS will have only 10 days of rehearsal and will work without a director. This style of rehearsal allows the company to use performance as research to understand some of the conditions under which an early modern playing company may have worked. TGS will perform Chaste Maid on March 30 at 8 p.m. at Blackfriars and will include an open bar prior to the show.

The festival will also include a performance of the master of letters production of Clyomon and Clamydes on March 30 at 2 p.m. at Blackfriars. Written by an unknown author, Clyomon and Clamydes tells the story of competing knights and is filled with comedy, adventure, and romance.

The MFA Festival is a chance for audiences to revisit Turning Glass Shakespeare’s productions or experience them for the first time and a chance to say goodbye to this company as they complete a year of work, play, and learning.