American Shakespeare Center Returning to St. Lawrence

By Kathryn Corbitt '18

St. Lawrence University will be taken back to the 17th century this month by the American Shakespeare Center in their renditions of the classics. An annual tradition, the company will return to campus to perform from Oct. 27 to 29.

Their repertoire for this year consists of: “The Taming of the Shrew” on Friday Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m., “Macbeth” on Saturday Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m., and Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” on Sunday Oct. 29 at 5:30 p.m. All performances will be in Peterson-Kermani Performance Hall and will be free and open to the public.

Based in Staunton, Virginia, the American Shakespeare Center’s home theater is the Blackfriars Playhouse, constructed after Shakespeare’s original indoor theater. The company seeks to deliver similar authenticity to their traveling performances which are all over the U.S., and re-creates Renaissance conditions at each venue.

While sometimes tedious to spend all that time on the road, the actors in the ASC say they love being on tour. It allows for a change in audience, which actor Ron Roman-Melendez says is very beneficial: “On the road, you'll hit a different venue every day of the week, all you have is your story, all you have are the words in your head, and all you truly have is your fellow actor on stage with you in that moment, it's sink or swim in the best possible sense.”

Their traveling allows for communities otherwise not exposed to such performances to experience them firsthand. As actor Ally Farzetta points out, “It's also wonderful to perform for communities that don't have as much accessibility to Shakespeare. Sometimes we are their first experience seeing Shakespeare, which is so exciting.” 

The company has been touring since 1988, says Thomas J. Coppala, touring troupe manager/assistant director of the ASC. However, it was previously called the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express before changing their name in 2001 to what we know today. The 2017-18 “Wicked Folly Tour” travels from September to April and will have made seven stops before landing in Canton for their performances.

While they have performed Jane Austen on tour before, this will be the first time they perform “Sense and Sensibility.” Emma Whipday, author of the play “Shakespeare’s Sister” adapted the novel for ASC to perform on tour. Although known for their renditions of Shakespeare, the ASC performs work by his contemporaries as well, Coppala says, which “helps to highlight other contemporary playwrights still using Shakespeare’s staging conditions.”

The ASC's coming to Canton is a cultural and educational experience for St. Lawrence University and the entire community. Actor Hilary Caldwell points out that “it's so important for students to see all of us building these worlds together, operating in multi-faceted positions, and taking on roles that challenge an audience's perspective.”

Tickets are required and are free and available either online at or by emailing Sarah Barber at