A 50-minute dive into the world of Shakespearean drama

Ayron Rutan, Staff Writer

GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Grand Valley State University welcomed back its Shakespeare festival with an exciting performance of “Bard to Go: What Mighty Magic.”

The production team, a small group of GVSU students, visited schools throughout the West Michigan area and across the state and performed at GVSU on Nov. 6. 

According to the event’s page on GVSU’s website, Bard to Go was created to take audiences on a journey throughout Shakespeare’s most majestic scenes, filled with supernatural creatures and even a statue that comes alive. 

The program lasted 50 minutes and consisted of scenes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,”  “The Tempest,” “Macbeth,” “Hamlet” and “The Winter’s Tale,” and was presented as a fast-paced introduction into the world of Shakespearean drama. 

The event was organized by GVSU Associate Professor of Theater, and Shakespeare Festival Managing Director, Dr. James A. Bell. 

In addition to organizing the event, Bell explained that he was also the producer for the Bard to Go team. 

“My role is as the producer,” Bell said. “I am also the Managing Director for the Shakespeare Festival, which means I oversee and coordinate all events. As producer, I’ve been responsible for arranging our tour dates and performances and also facilitating resources and personnel.”

Bell said each member of the class, which was created solely for the production, had their own role in putting the show together.

“Bard to Go is an annual part of the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival. It’s a class with 6 performers and a Stage Manager,” Bell said. “The Director of the production teaches the class, and then there is usually a producer who helps arrange the tour with area schools.”

Bell said in past years the group has had a consistent touring schedule, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their usual schedule of tour dates had to be slightly altered. 

“Usually we perform for four Fridays in October and the first of November at area schools,” Bell said. “This year coming back from COVID, we were able to have three Friday tour dates and will have performed at 5 area schools. We always close the tour with a free public performance.”

Bell said that the performance and festival offered an extremely beneficial service to GVSU students, as it was designed to help introduce them to the world of Shakespeare. 

Bard to Go gave students and members of the Laker community a chance to not only see a performance but also to learn a little bit about Shakespeare’s works. 

“Bard to Go is designed to be a short play that helps introduce students to Shakespeare performances,” Bell said. “It’s always a fun, high energy production. Closing it out with a public performance where we have a lot of new performers is a great opportunity for the community to see Shakespeare in performance and see some of these new performers in our theatre program. It will be a lot of fun.”

In addition to the performances from last weekend, the GVSU Shakespeare festival will continue throughout the winter. 

While the November performances of Macbeth have been canceled, a different show will take place in January. Bell said he was particularly excited about this. 

“In January, the Shakespeare Festival will close out with another production, this one a mainstage production in our Black Box Theatre of Tom Stoppard’s ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,’” Bell said. “That will be a really fun production as well that is currently in rehearsal.”

For more information on the Shakespeare Festival’s remaining productions, dates, and protocols for attendees, you can visit the GVSU Music, Theatre and Dance Department’s website.