Many have eagerly awaited the arrival of the American Shakespeare Center, but the anticipation will soon be over.
The cast is scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Martha Street Culp Auditorium.
“I’ve been working to get this arranged for about two years now,” said Anita DeAngelis, director of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. “We really struggle with presenting theater pieces, mainly because we don’t have adequate spaces on campus to showcase a lot of touring theater companies, but American Shakespeare Center is a little different.”
American Shakespeare Center performs its plays “Shakespeare” style.
“They don’t use overhead lights; all the house lights are off during their performance, and their special effects are all generated right on stage,” DeAngelis said.
A play like this, with few background elements and without intense lighting, is something similar to what would have been experienced in Shakespeare’s era.
For the performance of “Doctor Faustus,” by Christopher Marlowe, the American Shakespeare Center has provided a unique aspect by incorporating both of Marlowe’s texts.
“They’ve kind of woven them together in order to present this particular performance,” DeAngelis said. “It is a one of a kind performance.”
Marlowe slightly predates Shakespeare and there aren’t many companies on the road performing his work.
One of the things that is interesting about “Doctor Faustus” is that the artists are going to work with dance and literature students while they are here, DeAngelis said.
“We try to schedule artists that come in and will impact classes somehow,” DeAngelis said.
The cast will perform a single show, before they will work with students in various outreach activities.
“They are working with a dance class so they are going to be teaching a dance class about the movement that’s used on stage,” DeAngelis said.
“I’m hoping they will give a little bit more detail about the history of Elizabethan dance styles.”
Another way the cast will have a major impact is by working with Robert Sawyer’s literature and language class.
“To see it [literature] performed live, the way it was meant to be seen, the way it was meant to be experienced, I think that brings a completely different approach and appreciation for the writing Christopher Marlowe did,” DeAngelis said.
DeAngelis hopes students in the literature class will have the opportunity to talk about how it was decided to use both texts for the production, rather than selecting one text over the other.
American Shakespeare Center has toured since September.
Prior to the tour, they have made the necessary preparations to promote their work, incorporate Marlowe’s two texts, make costumes and audition actors.
“All of that combined together, I think makes for a much richer experience than reading a text,” DeAngelis said. “There’s value in reading, but I think there’s even more value when you get to see it performed live.”