Taking Shakespeare abroad

Bard to Go brings fresh interpretation of classic plays to The Bahamas

By Taylor Crowley | 10/1/17 10:22pm

GVL / Emily Frye Bard To Go runs through their last performance of the Shakespeare Festival on Nov. 7th.

The Grand Valley State University organization Bard to Go, a traveling Shakespeare troupe, will be performing throughout the state and even in a different country this year. 

The idea behind any Bard to Go production is to keep the legend of Shakespeare alive by showing the audience how Shakespeare is still relevant in the modern era. The group has traveled abroad to many places, including Italy and the Czech Republic. This year, Bard to Go will be traveling to The Bahamas to perform. 

“We are performing this show at several area schools all over West Michigan," said Parker Ykimoff, a performer in this year’s production. "We’ll tour the show around various high schools to reach out to these kids to help them better understand Shakespeare and to make him a little more accessible. 

"We hope to make them realize that (the plays) are not just full of a bunch of old, dead words.”

The show being done by Bard to Go this year is “The Wonder of Will: This Is Your Afterlife!” The production will be set up as a mock reality show featuring William Shakespeare himself in several scenes from plays he wrote. 

“One thing I think that is really cool about Bard to Go, in general, is that it always gives the audience an experience of multiple Shakespeare plays in one play,” said Katherine Mayberry, producer and dramaturg of this year's show. “For the school kids, who are our main audience, this gives them a chance to get introduced to Shakespeare and not have to start right off with trying to keep up with the plot of a full play.”

This show in particular features eight Shakespeare plays in just 50 minutes.

“The audience should definitely expect a lot of laughs," Ykimoff said. "It’s a really, really funny show. This particular performance is cool because it gives a play-within-a-play experience.”

Ykimoff also said the cast forges connections between classic plays like "Romeo and Juliet" or Hamlet" and modern society. The goal is to give the audience a better understanding of Shakespeare by giving them more flexibility in interpretation. 

“It is important to note that this type of theater is not dead theater, haughty or pretentious,” he said.

Auditions for the show took place during the summer before the fall 2017 semester had begun. The cast for these productions is not limited to theater students, and it features a range of students with different majors and class standings, ensuring that the organization keeps up with GVSU talent.

“It is seen as a great honor to be a part of Bard to Go because with the cast change every year, you might not get to do it more than once,” said Jacob Molli, a performer in the production. “They typically only allow students in Bard to Go once because it is an incredible honor to be a part of such a unique opportunity traveling to these schools and performing abroad.” 

For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/theatre/bard-to-go-41.htm.  

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