I’ve come to mark my calendar for productions of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company. The local nonprofit — founded by Dan McCleary — is helping me raise my children, their access to the Bard’s timeless art far more “up close and personal” than anything I could have imagined before I reached college. From outdoor productions at Shelby Farms (The Tempest) to the cozy confines of the Dixon Gallery & Gardens (Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew), TSC has made Shakespeare intimate for Memphians. It’s a scale necessary to fully appreciate language — and characters — more complex than, say, reality television.
TSC returns in two weeks with a production of Henry V. Presented in partnership with the University of Memphis Department of Theatre & Dance, performances will take place at the U of M Theatre Building’s main stage (3745 Central Avenue) from June 9th to June 19th.
The story is among Shakespeare’s more popular histories, chronicling an ambitious young king and featuring the first truly great pep talk in the English language. (“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers . . . ”) Ten actors will play more than 30 roles in what McCleary describes as Shakespeare’s “most theatrically self-aware play.”
Stephanie Shine will direct the play, having already helmed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet for TSC. “From its opening lines,” says Shine, “[Henry V] invites the audience to help create the play with their imaginations, citing the necessity for participation that gives promise to an exciting adventure. TSC’s production will build upon that structure with on-stage seating flanking a raised stage that plays in front of the main stage.” Don’t be timid when you see the whites of the actors’ eyes. As I said, this is intimate theater.
Two Thursday-night performances (June 9th and 16th) are “Free Will Kids’ Nights” in which children (17 and under) are admitted free with a paying adult. You can raise your kids on Shakespeare, too.
For tickets, call 901-759-0604 or visit www.tnshakespeare.org.