By Joseph Pratt
The Portsmouth Area Arts Council (PAAC) has been working to provide the educational values and entertaining factors of classic Shakespeare to the community for years now, and is adding yet another performance to their schedule, bringing Cincinnati Shakespeare Company to Portsmouth twice this year.
The first performance is set for this week, with a Shakespeare in the Park performance of “Romeo and Juliet.”
The classic romance chronicles the blossoming love of two teenagers, Romeo and Juliet. The two meet and fall in love, but are quickly torn by divided families that have been at war for an indefinite period of time. The two must unite their families to find peace so that they can start their lives together.
The play was penned by Shakespeare in 1595 and has since been retold through story and film dozens of times.
PAAC Executive Director Becky Lovins said that she is excited to bring Cincinnati Shakespeare Company to the area for more performances.
“Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has performed every single Shakespeare play,” Lovins said. “When you get to see a production by them, it is obvious that they really, really know what they are doing. The actors know the content well and know how to make the work come to life.”
Lovins said that PAAC has been attempting to get on the company’s summer tour for a while, and she is glad it has finally worked out.
The show will be performed on Shawnee State University’s newly renovated Alumni Green, which is in the heart of the campus.
“Romeo and Juliet” will have a limited set, with actors relying more on platforms and costumes.
“Cincinnati typically tours lighter with flats and smaller set pieces, because they tour to so many places,” Lovins said. “They pack lightly and the sets that they do bring are easier to set up and take down over the course of a day. We will be hosting them in the heart of the campus, with the set going against the back wall of the Alumni Green.”
Lovins also went on to say that the campus supplies a nice, quiet location for the cast to act in and the community to enjoy, which wasn’t offered at other park locations.
“I love that more and more people discover the absolute magic that is live Shakespeare with every production we hire the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for,” Lovins said. “I think that so many people have to read and study Shakespeare that they get this idea that is is boring and academic. When you see Shakespeare live, and performed well by people who understand the subject and language, it is magical. It is some of the most entertaining performances out there.”
Lovins said that the feedback from student and public performances has been overwhelming and she believes that the shows rid some of the skepticism.
“I don’t think Shakespeare was meant to be read, but instead watched,” Lovins said. “It is something that comes to life beautifully when performed.”
PAAC is planning on a continuation to their current partnership with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company with a performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in November.
“Romeo and Juliet” will be performed on Shawnee State University’s Alumni Green Friday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.
Shakespeare in the Park performance