About Us

MISSION STATEMENT

Sweet Tea Shakespeare seeks to celebrate the wonder of Shakespeare’s inventions of language, story, and stagecraft by providing simple, elemental, magical theatre experiences of his and other remarkable works in an accessible atmosphere of beauty and community.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare is a former affiliate of Fayetteville State University

WHO WE ARE

Sweet Tea Shakespeare imagines, enacts, and embraces theatre in the spirit of Shakespeare and early modern performance as it seeks to employ the ingenuity and drive behind Shakespeare’s own company through productions, workshops, training, music, and community engagement.

OUR GOALS

The goals of Sweet Tea Shakespeare are:

1) to vitalize the performance of Shakespeare and other drama for the diverse communities of Southeast North Carolina and the Sandhills by presenting inspiring, accessible, literate, experiential theatrical performance;

2) to foster community and fellowship around the enterprise of theatre in outdoor and other beautiful spaces.

3) to provide exceptional avenues for artists and audiences of all backgrounds to take part in recovering the joys of Shakespeare and live performance.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare is a function of Fayetteville State University and enjoys support from FSU Friends of the Arts and FSU Foundation, Inc.

CREDO

Sweet Tea Shakespeare embraces a number of early modern staging practices in its performances, including:

UNIVERSAL LIGHTING

Shakespeare’s theatres, and many others, enjoyed light that illuminated actor, stage, and audience alike, allowing for engagement between the actor and the audience member.

A SURROUNDED SPACE

Throughout theatre history, and especially in Shakespeare’s theatres, audiences surrounded a central performance space in configurations now called thrust and arena staging. When the audience surrounds the playing space, they are part of the world of the play, visible to actor and other audience members, working as confidants and communities throughout the performance.

SIMPLE STAGING

Early modern theatres didn’t have fixed sets. In Shakespeare’s theatres, acting companies performed different plays each day, so there wasn’t time for a complete set to be built. Instead, large, movable set pieces were used, such as beds, thrones, tombs, and the like. Simple sets upend the economics of making theatre, putting the emphasis on actor and text. Since the advent of film, some theatres have put themselves into an unwinnable competition with the spectacular effects and grand visuals of the cinema, and replacing the role of the audience’s imagination with complex and show-stealing technologies. Simple sets offer a different approach, and allow for audiences to build the world of the play with imagination.

DOUBLING

Many Shakespeare plays, from Hamlet to Macbeth to the histories, have dozens of characters, but early modern playing companies often had casts between 12 and 15, with apprentices and journeymen and others joining occasionally, or with cast sizes expanding for special occasions. With a small group of actors and many characters, it was common practice for actors to play more than one role. By doubling shows, audiences can enjoy one favorite actor play several parts over the course of an evening.

ENLIVENED COSTUMING

With simple sets and doubled actors, costumes are of critical importance to Shakespeare’s theatres. They served as the primary visual draw for a production and helped distinguish between characters. Importantly, Shakespeare’s theatres wore what was for them modern dress. Think the equivalent of a t-shirt and jeans, an evening gown, a tuxedo, or military fatigues for teenagers, ladies-in-waiting, lords, or soldiers, respectively. Occasionally, such as for the Roman characters in Julius Caesar or the religious figures of Henry V, companies used more developed and historically-minded costumes. By using this mix of modern with a patina of the past, audiences can approach the play as Shakespeare’s audiences did, seeing a world that isn’t too different from their own.

CROSS-GENDER CASTING

Shakespeare’s theatres employed all male casts, using boys whose voices hadn’t broken in puberty for young women’s roles like Juliet and Viola. Early modern companies and audiences were accustomed to seeing boys and young men play women (some of whom were disguised as young men, as in Viola’s case). Sweet Tea Shakespeare performances are for everyone, but we enjoy the fun of playing with and in gender by casting across gender frequently.

LIVE MUSIC

Shakespeare’s plays included concerts. In addition to numerous music and dance within the plays themselves, shows were often preceded by musical and other entertainments. When Shakespeare’s company moved to Blackfriars in 1608, plays began to include musical interludes that sometimes were more popular than the plays themselves. The music then was contemporary, sometimes plucked off the streets and inserted into a performance in ways that connected the timeless texts with accessible, modern music.

THE EARLY MODERN “BALLPARK” ATMOSPHERE

With universal lighting, surrounded spaces, live music, and access to food and drink, Shakespeare’s theatres were more of a modern-day baseball or football stadium than a darkened theatre with assigned seating and demure audiences. Amid the music, noisy audiences, side entertainments, and beer, a play happened. Just as double plays, triple plays, plays at the plate, homers and beloved players draw the attention of a raucous crowd to the field, so can great writing, humanity, music, and spectacle draw the eyes and ears of the audience.

ACTOR STAKEHOLDERS

Shakespeare’s theatres were run by actors. Shakespeare’s own company, first called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and later the King’s Men, was owned by a set of around 8 actors, each with a share in the company and most of whom played specialized roles on stage and who brought added value to the company by way of writing, management, or other skills. Sweet Tea Shakespeare is home to a number of Company Members and Associates who take charge of a variety of operations in company management, marketing, production, and performance.

“Love is the strongest choice.”

At Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we believe in love. Love for the text, for the artists, and for the audience. When confronted with any challenge in these wonderful texts, we seek to see how far choosing love will get us.

2012

Founded in 2012, Sweet Tea Shakespeare presented Much Ado About Nothing and Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest at Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

2012-2014

Performing primarily at CFBG and Fayetteville’s Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, STS presented two summer and one winter show annually before expanding to include spring and fall productions.

2014-2017

Operating as a function of Fayetteville State University’s Fine Arts Series, STS presents year-round performances at the 1897 Poe House at the Museum of the Cape Fear as well as Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, CFBG, and a host of area venues, including craft breweries. The LIT and Honey series are launched.

Staff & Board

Sweet Tea Shakespeare is led by Artistic Director Jeremy Fiebig and a team of Masters, Fellows, and Wrights, who are invited into company membership by existing Masters. This team answers to Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Board of Directors.

BOARD MEMBERS / Jeremy Fiebig, Jessica Osnoe, Marie Lowe, Jacob French, Medina Demeter, Tohry Petty, Jen Czechowski

ARTISTIC & PROGRAMMING

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MASTER OF PLAY, PRESIDENT / Jeremy Fiebig
ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MASTER OF AUDIENCE & LIT / Marie Lowe
ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MASTER OF COMPANY & HONEY / Jessica Osnoe
ASSISTANT ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, MASTER OF NOTE & FIGURE / Jacob French
DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE ENGAGEMENT, MASTER OF GIFT & POMP / Tohry Petty
MASTER OF SUGARS & SITE / Jen Czechowski
MASTER OF HOUSE & YOUTH / Medina Demeter
STAGE MANAGER, STAGE WRIGHT / Hanna Lafko
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR, STAGE WRIGHT / Traycie Kuhn Zapata

OPERATIONS

GENERAL MANAGER, ORDER FELLOW / Jen Pommerenke
ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER, ORDER FELLOW / Gabe Terry
ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER, ORDER FELLOW / Debbi Kelly

TICKETING & BOX OFFICE

BOX OFFICE MANAGER, Box Wright / Brian Terry

DEVELOPMENT

MASTER OF GIFT / Tohry Petty

FELLOWS

WRIGHTS

Reagan Carstens | Environment Wright
Cerina Johnson | Host Wright
Nic Fulton | Music Wright
Will Collier | Stage Wright
Justin Toyer | Stage Wright
Tyler Graeper | Haberdashery Wright
Annalise Kelly | Wright
Catherine Kelly | Music Wright
Lofton Riser | Noise Wright
Taj Allen | Wright
Jessica Perry | Fund Wright
Ashlyn Parsons | Wright
Christine Orozco | Wright
Emily Crowther | Wright

JOURNEYORS

Kaley Morrison
R.A. Nelson
Mary Lynn Bain