I think the Alabama Shakespeare Festival started when I was in middle or high school, and I remember us going on field trips to Montgomery to see Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill.
Seeing these shows, along with “Shakespeare Made Easy” books (where the left-hand side of the page is in Shakespearean English and the right-hand side is a translation in modern English) are probably the only ways I ever was able to really ‘get’ Shakespeare!
One of the great things about the ASF is that while they do fantastic productions of Shakespeare, they don’t do Shakespeare plays exclusively. Since high school, I’ve been back several times…my favorite was when we went about four years ago to see The Last Night of Ballyhoo by Alfred Uhry. This year, Av and I are season ticket holders, and I am really looking forward to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (which we’re going to see this coming weekend!), James and the Giant Peach, Death of a Salesman, and most of all…Gee’s Bend!! Yes!!
Gee’s Bend is being performed from January 19 – February 11th, and the ASF website describes it this way:
The first reading of Gee’s Bend at ASF’s 2006 Southern Writers’ Project played to a packed house and rousing standing ovation. This epic but intimate tale spanning 50 years of the 20th century follows the lives of Sadie Pettway and the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama who create magnificent quilts, and while doing so, sing hauntingly beautiful gospel melodies. As the decades pass, Sadie endures an abusive marriage, racial indignities and the hardships of the working poor to emerge as a great artist and greatly admired human being.
I can’t wait!
Another thing that I think will be lots of fun is what the ASF calls their “Armchair Auction” – it’s January 28th, and they sell props and other items that were used in the productions!