Every year, as part of the Shakespeare Festival, Grand Valley State University’s traveling theater troupe, Bard to Go, performs short Shakespeare productions as they travel to high schools in West Michigan. One of the purposes of the Bard to Go is to give high school students an introduction to what Shakespeare is like on stage.
In alignment with the Making Waves Initiative, Bard to Go went along with this year’s water theme with the show Tossing on the Ocean. The production features scenes from a number of Shakespeare plays and centers on characters from The Tempest. Prospero, a powerful wizard, and Ariel, a magical spirit cause a storm that wrecks a ship on an island which leads to making a mess of things for other characters from various Shakespeare plays.
According to producer Kathrine Mayberry, Bard to Go is a great way to introduce student actors to what touring productions are like. She said the life of a touring actor is different because they have to be prepared and flexible to adapt to different settings.
“I really love introducing them to that experience because I think it’s really valuable for professional work that they’re going to do when they leave school. I think it’s great that they get that experience at Grand Valley,” Mayberry said.
Alex Coy, who plays Prospero in the Tossing on the Ocean production, auditioned for the Bard to Go production at the end of the winter semester. Of his experience so far working on the production, Coy said, “working with Shakespeare is always a ton of fun, but Tossing on the Ocean has been especially interesting.”
Coy said that one of his favorite things about working on the production is being able to talk to students after each performance and hearing their thoughts on Shakespeare and the production. “It’s our job to show these students that Shakespearean theatre isn’t scary and boring, but that it’s hilarious and silly,” Coy said.
Bard to Go has been traveling to different high schools throughout October, and concluded the Shakespeare Festival at GVSU on Saturday, Nov. 2nd with a free public performance at the Haas Performing Arts Center in the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre.