Nashville, TN – Come spend the Dog Days of summer in the refreshing oasis of oneC1TY as the Nashville Shakespeare Festival will work with Kennie Playhouse Theater once again to bring two exciting plays to Middle Tennessee: August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean and Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.
“August Wilson and William Shakespeare are bards who make us think, help us feel, and touch our souls,” says NSF Executive Artistic Director Denice Hicks, “Both of these plays are adventures into the human heart, led by strong female characters with themes of faithfulness and forgiveness.
Chuck Smith, the resident director at Chicago’s Goodman Theater, who directed Jitney for the 2021 Summer Shakespeare festival, returns to direct Gem of the Ocean. Set in 1904 Pittsburgh, Gem of the Ocean is “the story of a young African-American man’s redemption and the powerful people he meets along the way”, says Smith. Aunt Ester (Jackie Welch), a well-known 285-year-old wise woman of the town whose home has become a sanctuary for the troubled and lost. She helps guide Citizen Barlow (Jarvis Bynum), a man who has fled from Alabama after indirectly causing another man’s death when he stole a bucket of nails, through a spiritual journey towards redemption and self-discovery. “Gem of the Ocean was chosen because of August Wilson’s insightful writing and the way it uniquely tells the history of those who were forgotten,” says Producer and actor Kenny Dozier who also plays the character Caesar.
“Shakespeare’s Cymbeline has it all,” says director and Vanderbilt University professor Leah Lowe, “A gutsy princess, evil stepmother, handsome hero, and dastardly villain. It’s an epic adventure story that explores betrayal, intrigue, loss, and ultimately, forgiveness.” Cymbeline is a complicated tale of King Cymbeline (Steven Young), his daughter Imogen (Jamie Herb), a plot to marry off Imogen to the King’s stepson, two kidnapped sons and a special appearance by Jupiter (Katie Bruno)! Throw in a war between Britain and Rome and this “tragedy” becomes a comedy of mistaken identites.
Cymbeline plays August 18-21, September 4-5 and 10-11 at oneC1TY, a vibrant urban community using sustainable design features with abundant green spaces and a community lawn that encourages walking, biking and enjoyment of the outdoors, music, art and theater. Gem of the Ocean runs August 25-28, September 1-3 and 8-9. Both plays then perform in Franklin, TN at Academy Park September 15- 18.
The creative teams include set designer Shane Lowery, Fisk University professor Persephone Felder Fentress as the stage manager, assistant stage manager Nikkita Staggs, costume designers Bethany Dinkle and Olufunamayo Rigsby, wardrobe assistant Alexis Grigsby, properties manager Patricia “Pixie” Convertino, music for Gem of the Ocean by 3-time Grammy Nominee Joseph Wooten, music for Cymbeline by Paul Carrol Binkley, and pre-show concert series curated by Mary Sack. The Festival is a free event with a suggested $10 per person donation per show. Each evening will begin with food vendors at 5:15, “Insight” talk at 5:30, Pre-show concert at 6:00 and the main performance at 7:00. VIP Royal Packages are available which include reserved seating, parking, and dinner.
This project is sponsored in part by Advance Financial Foundation, Amazon, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, the National Endowment for the Arts, oneC1TY, Williamson County Parks & Recreation, and the Williamson County Performing Arts Center at Academy Park. All of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s programs are supported in part by Metro Arts/Nashville Office of Arts & Culture and the Tennessee Arts Commission. For more information, go to https://www.nashvilleshakes.org/shakespeare-in-the-park.
About The Nashville Shakespeare Festival: https://www.nashvilleshakes.org/history-and-mission The mission of Nashville Shakespeare Festival (NSF) is to educate and entertain the Mid-South community through professional theatrical experiences. NSF enriches and unifies our community with bold, innovative and relevant productions along with empowering, participatory educational programs, setting the community standard of excellence in educational outreach. Since 1988, NSF has provided free, accessible, outdoor theater each summer that has served audiences from all economic backgrounds, employing hundreds of diverse theatre artists, and engaging thousands of volunteers. In continuous efforts toward equity and diversity, the Festival formed a creative collaboration with Kennie Playhouse Theatre, a Nashville company dedicated to African-American playwrights and performers, as we seek to unify Nashville’s theatre audiences and increase inclusion in our organizations. Since 2020, our collaborative programming has included African-American playwrights in addition to Shakespeare, and employed at least 50% BIPOC artists and technicians. The goal is to create excellent theatre that reflects the rich diversity of our community and creates a culture of acceptance and unity. This collaboration earned the Nashville Scene Writer’s Choice 2021 Best of Nashville Award for “Best New Arts Partnership” citing: “The collaboration itself proved to be a hit, reminding us of theater’s distinct ability to bring communities together.” More at https://www.nashvilleshakes.org
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