Today, at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va., WVPT Public Television and the American Shakespeare Center announced a wide-ranging partnership, celebrating 25 years of Shakespeare in Staunton through a community event and national broadcasts.
“As the PBS station for the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia, we’re always looking for ways to showcase and educate the communities we serve,” said WVPT President David Mullins. “When given the opportunity through a grant, we knew that partnering with the American Shakespeare Center to share the great work they do would provide for a unique, local documentary which will also find a home on the national stage with PBS.”
Nationally broadcasted PBS series to feature local theatre organization
In 2011, BBC filmmakers visited the Blackfriars Playhouse—a re-creation of the first indoor theatre in the English-speaking world (which William Shakespeare and his colleagues built inside London's Blackfriars Monastery)—to film portions of the American Shakespeare Center (ASC)’s production of The Tempest for an upcoming series, Shakespeare Uncovered. ASC is the only American theatre company featured throughout the entire six-part series.
“We are honored to be a part of this remarkable series along with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare's Globe, Trevor Nunn and the amazingly talented fellow actors, directors, companies and scholars they assembled,” said ASC Co-Founder and Artistic Director Jim Warren. “For 25 years, our mission has been to recover the joy and accessibility of Shakespeare using the staging conditions for which he wrote. Being part of this series allows us to share a piece of that mission and a peek at the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's indoor theatre for a trans-Atlantic audience as well as PBS viewers nationwide.”
On Jan. 21, WVPT and ASC will host a free, public reception and early premiere of the last installment of the series, “Shakespeare Uncovered: The Tempest with Trevor Nunn,” which features the Blackfriars Playhouse and ASC actors. The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Blackfriars Playhouse. The screening will be held at the Visulite Cinema (just down the street) at 7:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A session with actors who performed in 2011's The Tempest.
The entire series features acclaimed actors and directors, including Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn, Joely Richardson, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, Ben Wishaw, Jude Law and Helen Mirren. Shakespeare Uncovered will air on PBS stations nationwide beginning Jan. 25 and share the stories behind Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
Partnership possible through a national grant
Through a grant made possible by THIRTEEN—the flagship public television station of the New York City tri-state area and the most-watched public television channel in the nation—WVPT and ASC have partnered to create a broadcast companion to the Shakespeare Uncovered episode on The Tempest. WVPT was one of 10 public television stations across the country to receive the grant, valued at $15,750.
Preliminarly titled "Shakespeare for Everyone", the locally produced documentary—to be regionally broadcasted on WVPT in May and distributed for national broadcast in late 2013—will bring Shakespeare’s work to life for a national audience through what Andrew Gurr, former director of research at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, calls “one of the most historically important theatres in the world.”
“WVPT is excited about this project because it is the first time we have partnered with the American Shakespeare Center,” said Mullins. “By documenting how ASC is so distinctive and brings talent from across the world to Staunton, we hope to show why ASC is important not only to the Shenandoah Valley but also to theatre lovers across the country.”
WVPT will offer a look into ASC rehearsals, showcase performances and share the experiences of not just the theatre’s audience but also the actors who make each production possible and have come from far and wide to call Staunton their home.
“Staunton is an extraordinary little town—I can easily say I’ve fallen in love with it—and the American Shakespeare Center has magic up its sleeve,” said ASC Actor Miriam Donald Burrows, who appears in Shakespeare Uncovered’s episode on The Tempest. “It’s magical being a human being in the theatre.”
Burrows, who played Miranda in the theatre organization’s 2011 production of The Tempest, opened and closed today’s conference by performing monologues from the play.
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