Shakespeare and Performance Students to Open First Performance for MBU’s New Outdoor Rose Theatre

Mary Baldwin University (MBU) has announced the first production for its new outdoor performance space, the Rose Theatre, located beside Rose Terrace, a unique historic building which looks out across downtown Staunton from the MBU hill.

At 7 p.m. on October 4 and 5, students in the master of fine arts (MFA) program in Shakespeare and Performance will stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Rose Theatre. 

The performance is open to the public and admission is free, but donations in support of the student-led company’s mission are gratefully accepted. 

“I am so excited to be directing Fireside Shakespeare’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the inaugural show for the Rose Theatre — I truly can’t think of a more perfect play for this new outdoor space, said Rosemary Armato MFA ’21. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play about a group of actors and lovers that venture into the forest where they find themselves battling each other, the elements, and the very gods of nature. It is a privilege and a true delight to be able to perform this beautiful play in a similar vein — with a group of wonderful actors who are also exploring a new outdoor space.” 

Students in MBU’s Shakespeare and Performance program rehearsing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of five shows that they produce as part of earning their master of fine arts. The performance runs at 7 p.m. on October 4 and 5 in the Rose Theatre, MBU’s new outdoor space beside Rose Terrace.

Performers and audience members will adhere to health and safety requirements including universal face coverings and social distancing, as described in MBU’s Back to Baldwin plan. The outdoor nature of the theatre is also designed to help safeguard performers and visitors during the pandemic. 

To find Rose Terrace, see No. 38 on the MBU campus map; visitor parking is available in the nearby Sky II parking lot (see P13 on the map). Look for the Rose Theatre under the tent in the side garden.

The condensed 60-minute production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream offers a fantastical portrayal of magical realms and humanity colliding, and explores the universal themes of love, loss, betrayal, and friendship. 

The tents going up in early September for the new Rose Theatre at MBU.

Each class of students in the MFA program in Shakespeare and Performance at MBU create a fully fledged, working theatre company that puts on a season of five shows over the course of the academic year. 

This year, Fireside Shakespeare Company tells stories of magic, inevitable love, hospitality, brokenness, and reunion from Shakespeare and his contemporaries. 

“Together we’ve developed our company mission to help us and our viewers navigate this year unlike any other in recent memory,” said Summer England MFA ’21. “During this time of separation, we will create accessible productions and workshops for your home and the stage, as we seek to share the intimacy only theatre can craft. We welcome voices of all genders, ages, races, religions, abilities, and sexual orientations to make our collective voice stronger as we gather around the fire together.” 

For those unable to attend performances in person, Fireside Shakespeare Company is offering live-streamed performances of their season’s shows in addition to online workshops designed to expand upon and further investigate the performances. For information about these digital offerings for the classroom or home, please email [email protected]

The members of the Fireside Shakespeare Company at MBU are Abygail Merlino, Amanda Rogus, Emily Hurst, Emma Rose Kraus, Jason Steffen, Jeff Miller, Karalyn Headley, Madison Little, Mili Koncelik, Natasia Reinhardt, Rosemary Armato, Sarah Duttlinger, Spencer Mayo, and Summer England.