If a village is truly required to raise children, I like William Shakespeare in the neighborhood. Thanks to the Tennessee Shakespeare Company, my daughters have grown up with the sights and sounds — the feel, really — of the Bard as he intended to present them four centuries ago. They’ve seen Juliet atop the Dixon Gallery, her “balcony” under the stars (and, of course, moonlight). They’ve seen Prospero and the shipwrecked cast of characters in The Tempest as they should be seen — outdoors — at Shelby Farms. They’ve struggled (as we all do) with Hamlet as he wrestles with conscience, sorrow, anger, and love just a few feet away on a makeshift stage that transforms the Dixon into a modern, intimate Globe Theatre. With M & M’s at intermission!
Macbeth . . . Othello . . . Richard III (an exhumed skeleton, “My kingdom for a horse!”). These magical tales are as real, as tangible, as accessible to my daughters as the annual school play. And presented by professionals, led by Dan McCleary (TSC’s founder and producing director).
I didn’t see my first Shakespeare production on stage (TV doesn’t count) until after my 20th birthday. My favorite course in college was a semester devoted to the Bard’s works, but it was entirely a study of the language that shaped the plays, analysis of the characters’ thoughts and intentions. You may enjoy a KISS record now and then but come on, you gotta see the show! My daughters are seeing the show, one TSC production after another.
TSC presents All’s Well that Ends Well this month at the Dixon. As described by director McCleary, the play “is a seasonal fairy tale of faith, forgiveness, and love . . . that will gravitate toward . . . mysticism.” The central character is young Helena. My daughters will love it.
Opening night is Thursday at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens. For a full schedule, and to buy tickets, visit www.tnshakespeare.org.