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Busy, Collaborative Theatrical Schedule Highlights April’s Shakespeare Event at ODU

By Tom Robinson

Old Dominion University's ambitious celebration of "Shakespeare 400 Years After" is an ambitious community collaboration as well.

Running April 13-20 on campus, and at venues throughout Hampton Roads, the exploration of Shakespeare's permanence 400 years after his death joins theatre, film, music, dance, art, archaeology and an academic conference to inform and encourage public dialogue.

"We are the result of Shakespeare's world arriving here at Jamestown," said Imtiaz Habib, professor of English at Old Dominion and the lead organizer of the event. "What does it really mean that Shakespeare lives with us, how does he live with us, and what does that say about us? Our intention is to explore those ideas from different angles."

Naturally, stage performances of Shakespeare's plays - and impromptu "pop up" performances on Kaufman Mall and at ODU's Virginia Beach Center - hold a central place within the state's largest Shakespeare celebration this spring.

The performances are part of the Much Ado Festival organized by Katherine Hammond, Old Dominion's director of theatre, for which she enlisted various local artists.

"A festival is a very different sort of theatrical event," Hammond said. "As producer of the Much Ado Festival, I decided to offer invitations to local arts groups to highlight the different modes of theatre artists in the vibrant arts scene in Hampton Roads."

The plays to be performed, as chosen by the theatre groups producing them, are "Titus Andronicus," "Macbeth," "Henry V" and "The Two Gentlemen of Verona."

Two productions, "Macbeth" and "Henry V," will even be staged at the unique curtain time of 10:30 p.m.

"The thrilling thing about a festival is that you can see many different shows in a very short period of time," Hammond said. "Production manager Connor Norton and I made sure there were many opportunities to see things at all hours of the day."

Hammond's notes on the productions follow, with performance dates and times:

Titus Andronicus: A collaboration of Norfolk's Warehouse of Theatre and ODURep, the production arm of ODU Theatre, the play will be performed the most times. Staged as a bloody, dark comedy for audiences 13 and up, "Titus Andronicus" is Shakespeare's earliest tragedy. Chaotic and violent, "Titus" is a political expose of corrupt leadership, of ultimate power leading to ultimate revenge. Goode Theatre. Preliminary performances are April 6-9, 7:30 p.m.; April 14, 7:30 p.m.; April 15, 4 p.m.; April 17, 7:30 p.m.

Macbeth: Performed by Core Theatre Ensemble, a Hampton Roads group founded by ODU graduates Emel Ertugrul and Edwin Castillo that incorporates many other former Monarchs. A resplendent performance of imagery, movement and music that delivers Shakespeare's famous story in a modern, dynamic style. Goode Theatre, April 15, 10:30 p.m.; April 16, 7:30 p.m.

Henry V: The third production from a new company in town, Hampton Roads Summer Theatre, which features ODU students. It was founded by ODU's Justin McLawhorn and alumna Samantha Alonso. Goode Theatre, April 16, 10:30 p.m.; April 17, 4 p.m.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Students from the Governor's School of the Arts will perform under the direction of ODU's Ricardo Melendez. Brock Commons. April 16, 2 p.m.; April 17, 4 p.m.

ODU Music and ODU Opera will be featured in productions as well. The Madrigal Singers, directed by Bianca Hall, will present a free hour of period music at Brock Commons three times. And "As We Like It: Music Inspired by Shakespeare" is the creation of Brian Nedvin, musical director for ODU musicals. It will be performed three times at the Goode Theatre.

Additionally, "Shakespeare's The Tempest: Incidental music by Sibelius," conducted by JoAnn Falletta, features the Virginia Stage Company, Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Virginia Symphony Chorus and will be performed at Norfolk's Chrysler Hall on April 17, 2 p.m.

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