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Shakespeare Workshop Sets the Stage for February Production

Posted on December 14th, 2009

Theater students at EMU are getting a chance to develop their Shakespeare skills, thanks to a partnership between theater faculty and a graduate student and professional director working and studying at the American Shakespeare Center (Blackfriar’s Playhouse) and Mary Baldwin College.

EMU students participate in Shakespeare movement workshop in the studio theater
Alisha Huber, an MFA student working through Blackfriars Playhouse, leads EMU students in a Shakespeare movement workshop this fall in the studio theater. Photo by Brent Anders

Alisha Huber, currently an MFA directing student at Mary Baldwin, will direct Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labors Lost” at EMU in February. She’s scheduled three workshops throughout the fall 2009 semester in EMU’s studio theater (soon to be named after alumnus Lee Eshleman) to provide early training for EMU students who will audition. (The final workshop will be held Saturday, Dec. 12 from noon to 2 p.m.)

“Love’s Labors Lost” is scheduled for performance at the Blackfriars on March 21 as part of Huber’s MFA thesis project in addition to the EMU performances slated for Feb. 18-20 and 25-27.

Heidi Winters Vogel of EMU theater program
Heidi Winters Vogel, EMU theater professor

Alisha brings a wealth of Shakespeare experience to EMU,” says Heidi Winters Vogel, theater professor at EMU. “She directed performances of Julius Caesar this summer in both Michigan and New York City.”

“I’m really looking forward to this final workshop,” says EMU student Steven Stauffer. “It will give me a great chance to practice my audition ahead of time and get some crucial feedback from the director.”

The challenge of Shakespeare

“The first thing I wanted to accomplish in these workshops was to take Shakespeare off his pedestal and out of English class. Everyone who came was there because they were excited about doing Shakespeare,” says Huber.

EMU students participate in Shakespeare workshop in the studio theater
EMU students participate in a Shakespeare workshop led by Alisha Huber this fall in the studio theater. Photo by Brent Anders

Previous workshops this fall were “Shakespeare in Your Mouth,” which focused on elminating the language barrier and destroying preconceptions of what Shakespearean actors should sound like, and “Shakespeare on Your Feet,” which dealt largely with movement and staging.

“My focus was to acclimate the students to the joys and complications of original practices staging,” says Huber of the movement workshop.” The best exercise was about acting a set that one doesn’t have!”

About the final workshop

The final workshop, to be held Saturday, Dec. 12 from noon to 2 p.m., will prepare students for a classical audition, something many will be doing for “Love’s Labors Lost.”

“The Shakespeare workshops are not required for participation in ‘Love’s Labors Lost’ during the spring 2010 semester,” says Vogel, “but they’re a fun way to improve your comfort and knowledge of the art of Shakespeare.”

Participation in the final workshop is limited to the first 20 folks. No preparation is necessary. For more information, contact the theater department at (540) 432-4360 or theater@emu.edu.

Visit emu.edu/theater to learn more about theater at EMU!

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