The leads appear from The Acting Company's production of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" are dead. (Submitted photo)

Renowned theatre company to perform Shakespeare classic, join talk on festival named for playwright

March 26, 2014

New York City’s The Acting Company will perform both “Hamlet” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” at Earlham College on Friday and Saturday, respectively. 

The Tony Award-winning Company’s performance of “Hamlet” will be the first in its 41-year history. 

“It is hard to imagine a more perfect repertory in the classical theatrical cannon than these two masterfully inventive explorations of the same story — one of nobility one of commoners,” says Ian Belknap in speaking about his first season as Artistic Director of The Acting Company. 

Both performances, which are part of the College’s “Artist and Lecture Series,” begin at 7:30 p.m. in Goddard Auditorium in Carpenter Hall. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. 

Tickets are available by calling the box office at (765) 983-1474. 

“Hamlet,” which is also directed by Belknap, is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular works. The play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet plans for his father’s murder, setting him on a journey seeking his personal mortality. 

Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” directed by Tony Award winner and The Acting Company alumnus John Rando, is structured as the inverse of "Hamlet," with the title characters as the leads, and not the supporting players. 

Experiential learning in the theatre arts 

Apart from the performances, The Acting Company will also conduct several workshops with students during their four-day residency on campus. The workshops include post-performance question-and-answer sessions as well as acting clues in Shakespeare’s text, collaboration, and stage combat.

“This is the perfect example of the kind of mentoring and networking that we provide our students who are interested in the theatre arts,” says Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Lynne Perkins Socey. “Our students will not only have the opportunity for experiential learning with a professional theatre company, they will also work as the Company’s backstage, wardrobe and change-over crews for both shows.” 

A community-wide discussion on Shakespeare 

Representatives from The Acting Company will also participate in a community-wide discussion about the new Richmond Shakespeare Festival and the impact of plans to produce “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Romeo and Juliet,” in repertory, from June 6-15 at Whitewater Valley Gorge Park. 

The discussion will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Wilkinson Theatre on Earlham’s campus. 

“We’re asking people to be a part of a bigger community conversation about why we still do Shakespeare today and the positive impact an annual Shakespeare festival can have on community partnerships, education, economic development and the quality of life for our community,” says Perkins Socey, who is also a member of the festival’s board of directors. 

“This festival is not just about Shakespeare,” she says. “It’s about creating an event that will bring people to the area who will stay at hotels and bed and breakfasts, peruse shops, enjoy the city’s historical landmarks, and interact with performers, artisans, food vendors and children’s activities between performances in the beautiful gorge.” 

The Acting Company was founded by John Houseman and Margot Harley in 1972 and has toured 48 states and 10 countries earning a TONY for Excellence in Theater. The company has also won Obies, Audelcos and Los Angeles Critics Circle Awards. 

Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Jesse L. Martin and Rainn Wilson are just a few of performers who began their careers on tour with The Acting Company. 

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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