Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Bard, the birds and the bees

Charlotte Shakespeare begins its summer season -- one comedy, one tragedy, as usual -- under the sure-to-be-blue skies uptown Thursday. Its first show, "The Taming of the Shrew," will run through June 16 at The Green, that wedge of park space bounded by Tryon and College streets near First. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. (See

"Shrew," one of the Bard's most problematic comedies because of its sexism, gets a Wild West theme this time. The picture of J.R. Adduci and Meghan Lowther says all:

The company, founded seven years ago as Collaborative Arts, also does contemporary comedy and drama. But most of its fans in Charlotte know it for summer Shakespeare, so it changed its name last year and adopted the slogan "The Bard and beyond." The second play this year, "Macbeth," will put it in the Booth Playhouse at Founders Hall Aug. 15-25.

Both shows cost nothing to attend, though the company passes the hat at each and suggests a donation of $5. (Who'd be cheap enough to deny that? If you get away for a fin, you're buying the highest ratio of skill-to-expenditure among the city's theaters.) The company also imports musicians, poets, performance artists and storytellers to entertain audiences 45 minutes before each show.

But Charlotte Shakespeare doesn't merely hope you'll laugh or weep: They want you to love Shakespeare as much as they do. So actor-director Christian Casper will lead free workshops every Sunday at 5 p.m.; those offer energetic, interactive games and exercises that provide insights into the text of the play, and they require no prior experience or training. Workshops are open to ages 8 and up, as well as adults; families are invited to attend together, but attendance is limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you take one and get in touch with your inner Petruchio or Kate, there's an auditions link at the website for budding Shakespeareans. The company (and I) always welcome new talent.