Shakespeare Festival draws to a close

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

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

Marissa LaPorte

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The audience laughed out loud and sang along to silly songs during the final performance of “Bard to Go: Witty Fools and Foolish Wits.”

This performance, along with a student competition awards ceremony, brought this year’s Shakespeare Festival to an end on Nov. 7 at Grand Valley State University’s Loosemore Auditorium.

“Bard to Go” is a group of traveling actors which performs scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, improvising between scenes. Beginning with a preview at GVSU’s Allendale Campus, “Bard to Go” spent the duration of the Shakespeare Festival on tour performing for various high schools and ending with a free public performance at GVSU’s Pew Campus.

The annual student competition awards ceremony was held over the weekend for GVSU students who submitted essays, visual art or a theatrical performances pertaining to Shakespeare or the Renaissance. The final “Bard to Go” performance directly followed the ceremony and wrapped up GVSU’s 2015 Shakespeare Festival.

Allison Metz, the director of “Bard to Go,” said the show acts as the largest outreach effort during GVSU’s Shakespeare Festival to other schools and their students.

“I think there’s something to be said about bringing a show like (‘Bard to Go’) to (other students’) turf,” Metz said. “Something like Shakespeare, that might be seen as inaccessible, when it’s on their turf it is very accessible.”

Katherine Mayberry created the script for “Bard to Go” and produced this year’s performances. Mayberry said the effect the show has on the community is important, because many high school students get intimidated when reading Shakespeare. By bringing a live performance to the students, it helps them understand Shakespeare’s language and his plays.

“The thing that’s most rewarding about (“Bard to Go”) to me is to see our college students interacting with the high school students that are all probably getting their first experience with Shakespeare performance,” Mayberry said.

Preparation for this show required a 40-hour week of rehearsals the week before classes began at GVSU. The actors of “Bard to Go” were also challenged when touring and had to be flexible due to the different audience sizes and spaces, Metz said.

Mara Spears, GVSU student and “Bard to Go” actor, said teamwork and patience were essential when adapting to different spaces. Spears said she became good friends with both the cast and members of their high school audiences.

“I never expected to become such good friends with the cast, just as you don’t expect to become good friends with a stranger,” Spears said. “Comedy is ageless. You can connect with someone who is half your age or four times your age in any setting.”

Spears said students came up to the “Bard to Go” actors after their performance and said that they were inspired by the actors. For her, this was the most rewarding aspect.

For more information about GVSU’s Shakespeare Festival or “Bard to Go,” visit