Shakespearean scholar to speak at GV

GVL / Courtesy - UCONN

GVL / Courtesy – UCONN

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Famous playwright William Shakespeare said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” Grand Valley State University will play host to one of the greats – Shakespearean scholar Tony Simotes – who will be coming to GVSU as the keynote speaker for the biannual Shakespeare Conference.

Simotes’ presentation will be held on Friday, Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. The lecture is LIB 100 approved and will be preceded by a food reception at 3 p.m.

Toting a seemingly endless list of accomplishments, Simotes is a founding member and current artistic director for Shakespeare & Company. He is an actor, director, fight choreographer and theater educator.

In the lecture, “Shakespeare’s Physical Text: Violence and Comedy for the Stage,” Simotes will offer a unique perspective of Shakespeare’s work to the conference attendees.

“What I want to focus on is the physical text of the plays themselves and, from my background, how I came to look at the text of Shakespeare somewhat differently,” Simotes said.

Simotes plans to focus on how the physical text and the language of the texts of the script came together to create a play and production.

Simotes draws from his own experience and the physical work that he did as an actor early on in his career.

“I am really looking forward to the opportunity to discuss the way in which I approach Shakespeare, as well as the training methodology I have used to direct,” Simotes said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to share my experience as well as to be ready to engage in discourse to see what I can learn from this conference.”

The conference is being held in conjunction with the upcoming Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival. Jim Bell, managing director of the festival, said that the topic is a great fit for the upcoming performance of “The Comedy of Errors.”

“The play we are doing has the most comic entertainment of Shakespeare’s plays. It has these physical comic moments,” Bell said.

Bell knows Simotes personally and says that he is good at considering the plays from that physical perspective and believes that this will make students excited for the performance.

“Often in comedies you have these elements of violence,” Bell said. “In ‘The Comedy of Errors’ there are masters who beat their servants. It is an unusual thing that we find violence like that funny in the context of comedy.”

Bell believes that this lecture will be beneficial to students regardless if they plan to come and see the show. It will further students’ understandings of Shakespeare from a new and unique perspective.

“Shakespeare is likely something (students) will come across in one of their liberal studies courses,” Bell said.

Assistant professor of theater education and a chair member for the conference, Alli Metz said that Shakespeare is still relevant to people because he deals with the human condition in his plays.

“The work that is dealt with in Shakespeare is really what we all work with in theater, which is the human condition,” Metz said. “People go to theater to gain insight about life and the meaning of life.”

For more information about ‘The Comedy of Errors,’ check out for an additional article about the play.

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