Shakespeare in the Park brings age-old stories to community

Alexandra Lisa | Staff Writer

Fair is foul and foul is fair. Nothing is safe from the test of time. Has it come time for Shakespeare’s words to ring true for his own work?

Despite the fact that Shakespeare’s pieces are considered old-fashioned, hard to follow, and even boring by some, the famous playwright’s works are still studied and lectured on in classrooms; his plays performed on stages in the Mason community to this day. On August 5, The Arts Alliance teamed up with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company to perform Shakespeare in the Park at Cotell park. The audience watched a cast of six actors perform Macbeth on an artificial stage, with a single, red backdrop. The act incorporated simplistic costume changes and basic scene changes involving no more than three boxes and a false tree stump.

Dustyn Lane, an audience member who attended the show with his friends, said the limited, unadorned set up of the show helped add to the experience.

“It’s nice to have something more wholesome,” Lane said. “It feels like a more community-oriented event.”

This was Lane’s first live Shakespeare performance, and he said the work was timeless, despite the common idea that it’s begun to lose its flame, because the pieces highlight human nature. According to Lane, while the text may be outdated, the message is still relevant as in the case of Macbeth.

“It’s a story of ambition, corruption, and greed,” Lane said. “We see that all in today’s society. It’s still prominent.”

People who have never been exposed to live Shakespeare, or live theater in general, are the people actor Vanessa Sawson, who played Lady Macbeth, said she enjoys performing for the most.

“My favorite kinds of people are the ones where it’s their first time,” Sawson said. “Let’s find all the people who haven’t been exposed, and convince them to keep it alive, because we don’t want theater to die.”

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has reached over thirty communities this summer alone, and they reach nearly thirty-five thousand students a year through their continue to bring it to life.

Josh Katawick, who played Macbeth, said he finds what he does to leave a lasting impact on the community.

“If I didn’t feel like that, I wouldn’t do it,” Katawick said. “I feel very strongly that the arts are very impactful, and that they reflect timeless situations that everybody goes through, from the everyday person to the kings.”

Sawson said the performers all share a passion for what they do, and feel that bringing the work of Shakespeare to life is important for themselves and their audiences.

“I have a very specific way I look at art,” Sawson said. “I think that nothing is good or bad, that everyone is in their own process. The fact that we’re doing it is all there is. It would be an injustice if nobody put themselves out there, and did whatever they felt was art.”

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Photos by Staff Writer Meghan Pottle.