SWCC Festival celebrates Shakespeare
March 30, 2016The spring of 2016 marks an international commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. Sponsored by Southwest Virginia Community College, the theme for the annual Festival of the Arts is Shakespeare and the Birth of Romanticism: An International Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Death of Shakespeare. The dates are April 11-24, with pre-festival performances March 31 and April 1.
While we think of Shakespeare in the realm of theater and his many plays and sonnets, his vast body of work signaled and influenced the birth of the age of romanticism in all the arts. It is in that vein that the theme of the festival was selected.
A wealth of music inspired by Shakespeare for chamber ensemble, orchestra and voice is performed. Music from the 18-20th centuries including "West Side Story" (based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet,"), music from the film score "Henry V," a suite from music to "Much Ado About Nothing" and music from "The Lion King," based on King Lear, are a few examples.
The festival includes a residency of Shakespearian Improvisational Theatre with actor Joey Bland and the Mountain Youth Drama Group, directed by Lori Gates-Addison. A Sonnet Slam gives students, faculty and community folks a chance to present one of Shakespeare's sonnets in a humorous yet educational manner.
The Richmond Ballet II performs a part of "Romeo and Juliet," an English Garden Tea is held at Ellenbrook Mansion in Elk Garden; a flower show, All the World's a Stage, with floral arrangements based on the titles of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, is part of the festival. There will be Jeopardy, Festival Café and an exhibit, The Art of Costuming: Barter Theatre Costumes from the Shakespearean Stage. An exhibit of original art on the theme "Such stuff as dreams are made on" and piano master classes, concluding with the Spotlight on Talent featuring piano students of Pavlina Dokovska and Vladimir Valjarevic, are included in the festival.
The core part of the festival includes performances by the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra accompanying the SWCC Community Chorus and soprano Susannah Biller. There are three performances by Camerata Virtuoso New York with SWCC's music majors. Each performance has a different theme and program.
The festival ends with a performance by the SWCC Community Chorus performing an afternoon of Shakespeare-inspired musical theater, selections based on Shakespeare's plays.
The festival schedule is on the college website at www.sw.edu.