Professional Shakespeare theatre company performs for GV Shakespeare Festival


Courtesy / Katherine Mayberry

Steven Lawrence, Staff Writer

 As part of Grand Valley State University’s annual Shakespeare festival, the GVSU Department of Music, Theater and Dance partnered with the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company to bring a new performance to campus.

The company held a production of “Blue Eye’d Hag” in the Pere Marquette room in the Kirkhof Center. The “Blue Eye’d Hag” is a relatively new play written by Jim Lair Beard serving as a prequel to “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. The performance aimed to bring a new take on Shakespeare to the GVSU community. 

The play is about two warring kingdoms about to be united by the marriage of their prince and princess. However, just as the king of Chatauk lands on the island of Kytiff for the wedding festivities, a mysterious woman also arrives on the island with her newborn baby. Then, plans for a royal wedding descend into chaos as magic and confusion ensue.

Dr. Jim Bell, a professor of Theatre at GVSU and the Managing Director of the GVSU Shakespeare festival, said he and Katherine Mayberry, the Executive Director of Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company worked together to bring the production to GVSU. 

“Katherine Mayberry is one of our Shakespeare Festival alums and is part of our Shakespeare Festival Committee,” Bell said. “From that relationship, we have worked closely and regularly with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company because of our common interests and values. Katherine proposed bringing their production here as part of our festival.”

Bell expressed that he was very excited for what the performance could contribute to the GVSU community. 

“It adds another event and opportunity for viewing a production to our festival and to Grand Valley’s campus. This also was a new play, one related to Shakespeare, and so that was a terrific opportunity,” Bell said.

In addition to the performance itself, Bell said it was special because Beard, the playwright of “Blue Eye’d Hag,” came to the GVSU campus to speak to the audience and discuss his thoughts about the play. 

Bell said that both the production and the performances were “a lot of fun” and was able to connect the GVSU community to the wider world of theatre. 

“Additionally, numerous of the cast were former Grand Valley students or performers from Pigeon Creek who have worked with our Festival productions before,” Bell said.

Following the Shakespeare Festival, the GVSU Theatre program is hosting a variety of performances throughout the 2022-2023 school year. These events include “A Minister’s Wife” which opens this week. In November the program will put on their production of “Gloria.” In the winter semester, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be performed in February and “The Importance of Being Earnest” will take place in April.

For more information about performances or how to get involved with productions contact Jim Bell at [email protected] or visit the GVSU theatre program’s web page.