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Compass Shakespeare Ensemble announces 2017 MFA Festival

Compass Shakespeare Ensemble presents its 2017 MFA Play Festival March 21-26. During this week, audiences will have a chance to experience all of the shows that Compass has mounted together over the course of the year. They heartily invite first-time viewers or those who wish to see their work again to join them in this celebration of Shakespeare and the theatre arts.

Compass kicks off festivities on Monday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 21 at 8:00 PM in the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse with their Renaissance Style production of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost. The actors have only eight days to rehearse from cue scripts without a director or designers in order to explore Shakespeare’s original staging conditions.  During this process, Stage Manager Libby Powell and dramaturg Melinda Marks will serve as a guiding force to help move the play from page to stage, while the entire company works together to create a dynamic and collective interpretation of this early romantic comedy.

This half-courtly, half-country comedy follows the semi-love stories of four (sometimes five) almost-couples as they struggle to reconcile the duty they think they owe themselves with the feelings they develop for their witty counterparts.
On Wednesday, March 23 at 8:00pm in the Masonic Building’s Blue Room on the 5th floor, they will present their one-hour cut of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth. They have toured this educational-focused production to a variety of locations all throughout the Shenandoah Valley, such as the Virginia Institute for Autism, Hollins University, and Blue Ridge Community College. Director Kelley McKinnon helms this production, which offers the haunting portrayal of the rise of a hero and the fall of a tyrant. They invite all to experience this play in which we explore the universal themes of ambition, love, and loss.

On Thursday, March 24 at 7:00pm in the Masonic Building 5th floor, they present their 24 hour-ish Mad Wag play festival. They have gathered several groups of students in Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance program to perform 30-minute cuts of three plays that did not make it into their season: Pericles, Tartuffe and A Maid’s Tragedy. With only seven to eight hours of rehearsal time to put together their productions, they encourage audiences to see what happens.

On Friday and Saturday March 24 and 25th at 8:00 pm, they present their small-scale productions of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and The Comedy of Errors. A “small-scale” show is a performance in which a cast of four to five actors portray all of the characters in the production. This unique staging convention challenges actors in a myriad of ways — actors are tasked with creating multiple characters and physicalities and often find themselves talking, or even fighting, with themselves onstage. Director Molly Seremet helms Troilus and Cressida, which covers the themes of war and love. George Kendall heads Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, in which two pairs of identical twins accidentally cause chaos in one small town. Audiences can see Troilus and Cressida on the 24th at 8pm at the Kettle (19 W Beverley Street) and The Comedy of Errors on the 25th at 8pm in the Masonic Building.

They conclude their festival on March 26th at 8:00pm at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse with their commedia dell’arte inspired production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Guest director John Bellomo helms this production. A Philadelphia-based director/actor/movement specialist, Bellomo has studied commedia dell’arte at Maestro Antonio Fava’s International School for the Comic Actor and is a founding member and Artistic Director of Ombelico Mask Ensemble.

For show schedules, performance locations and more, visit www.mbucse.com.

CSE is the 2016/17 iteration of Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance Master of Fine Arts program.

 
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