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Shakespeare’s Audiences are Still Lit!

Written by Jessie Wise, Company Wright

I’ve always loved Shakespeare, but despite earning my bachelors degree in Theatre Arts Education and my masters degree in Theatre History and Criticism, outside of classwork I had never had the chance to really get involved with the plays. After losing my theatre teaching position due to budget cuts, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to get back to the theatre game. Early this year, I spotted an ad in the local paper for auditions for Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s summer shows and knew I had to take the leap to get back involved. One play later, I now am stepping further into this wonderful theatre community to help with some writing and dramaturgical projects. I look forward to the opportunity to share just why I love Shakespeare. 

As Sweet Tea Shakespeare prepares to bring HamLit to the stage this fall, I’ve been thinking about all the ways Shakespeare’s writing remains relevant to today’s audiences. While there is much to be said for how the Bard captures humanity in his works (a blog for another day), I have also been considering how though times have changed from the Elizabethan era, the audience’s needs remain the same. 

Shakespeare’s original audiences came to the open air theatre of the Globe to see a performance and received an experience similar to the sports events of today. They ate,drank, and had the freedom to move about. Those in the floor section, often referred to as the groundlings, could move closer to the stage for a better view. 

This is very much a practice we believe in at Sweet Tea Shakespeare. We provide food and beverage offerings for sale. We have a “sit where you will” and “move as you need” policy, allowing audience members to find explore new perspectives by moving around the seating area, and also acknowledging that humans need movement. 

The atmosphere is akin to what you find at today’s breweries. Grab a beer. Visit the food truck. Pick a seat. Spot a friend. Switch seats to sit with them. Grab another beer. This is what you’ll find as Sweet Tea Shakespeare brings HamLit to local bars and breweries this fall. We hope to see you there! 

Come Join Us for HamLIT!

Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s LIT series is going back to its roots with a return to the original installment of the LIT series: HamLIT. It’s the tragedy of the Danish prince paired with improv comedy, live music, and drinking games for an evening of Shakespeare, distilled. We are so excited to bring this fan favorite back to our audiences this fall.

HamLIT is directed by Taj Allen, Traycie Kuhn Zapata, and Nathan Pearce.  

The show will be performed at several venues throughout the region:

Friday, Oct. 4 & Friday, November 1 | Arts Council

Thursday, October 10 | Dirtbag Ales

Friday & Saturday October 18-19 and Friday & Saturday November 8-9 | Hugger Mugger Brewing, Sanford

Friday, October 11 , Thursday, October 24th & Saturday, October 26th | Paddy’s

Sunday, October 13 | Fainting Goat Fuquay-Varina

Sunday, October 27th | Fainting Goat Benson

All shows are preceded by our What You Will musical preshow. Food will be available for purchase. 

To see HamLIT in action, get your tickets at sweetteashakespeare.com. 

Crash Course on Timon of Athens

Before settling down on a lawn chair or quilt to watch Green Tea’s production,Timon of Athens, here’s a quick overview of the plot. 

The play opens with the introduction of Timon- a kind aristocrat in Athens with a severe spending habit. When Timon finds himself confronted with debts, his steward, Flavius, can do little more than tell him that he is bankrupt. Timon then sends his servants to ask his friends for help, only to find that no one will lend him money to repay his debt. In a rage, Timon invites them all to one last feast, severing the main dish- stones and warm water. After this, Timon denounces his former friends and all of mankind. 

Meanwhile, Alcibiades, a captain of Athens, has been pleading against a death sentence given to one of his men. For his persistence, the Senate banishes Alcibiades. Despising the Senate for banishing him, Alcibiades decides to turn his army against Athens in revenge and hears about Timon who has left Athens to live as a hermit. 

Timon, looking for food in the wilderness, finds a hidden stash of gold. Alcibiades finds Timon and tries to befriend him by offering him money. When Timon hears of Alcibiades’ plan to destroy Athens, Timon gives Alcibiades gold to pay his men and march to Athens. Timon even sends away his former steward, Flavius, although with gold in his pockets and more kindness than he has shown to anyone else. 

Alcibiades arrives at the gates of Athens. The senators attempt to defend the city, explaining that not everyone in Athens insulted Alcibiades and Timon, and they ask that Alcibiades come into the city in peace. 

To find out how Alcibiades acts once in Athens, come to see Green Tea’s production of Timon of Athens under the stars, August 21-23. Get your tickets to see the play in action at sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets. 

Back for Another Party with Green Tea

Sweet Tea Shakespeare Presents Timon of Athens 

Green Tea, Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s youth company, is excited to present Timon of Athens, a tragicomedy of friendship and greed. 

One of Shakespeare’s lesser-performed plays, Timon, is a breathtaking and heartbreaking story of foolishness, friendship, and loyalty. Timon, a lord of Athens, spends money wastefully on friends who quickly abandon him once financial ruin hits. Only the most loyal of his friends and confidants stick around, even as Timon descends into destitution and a life as a hermit. An exceptional exploration of love, grace, and persistence, Timon features Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Green Tea youth company. Starts bright and carefree, with notes of friendship; finishes dark, with greed and its aftermath. 

Directed by Jen Pommerenke & Traycie Kuhn-Zapata, Timon of Athens will be performed August 21 at Carleen’s of Hope Mills at the Moulder-Warner Home and August 22-24 at the 1897 Poe House. 

The performances will begin at 7:30pm with our famous What You Will Preshow 30 minutes prior to curtain.

Tickets are Pay What you Will, $10-$50.

Performances will be presented in the garden of the 1897 Poe House (801 Arsenal Avenue, Fayetteville)  and Carleen’s of Hope Mills at the Moulder – Warner Home (5703 Rockfish Rd, Hope Mills, NC). Poe House performances will have food available for purchase, as well as tea, craft beer, and wine. Outside food and drink are not permitted.

For outdoor performances, audience members should bring their own seating or choose from rental chair and quilt seating options. Indoors, seating will be provided, along with an optional rental seat cushion. All rental options are subject to availability.

Parking is available at all venues. The 1897 Poe House offers limited street parking, with additional parking available across the MLK Freeway, at Arsenal Park.

Changes due to inclement weather will be announced on Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s website and Facebook page.

Purchase tickets at sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets. 

For more information, call 910-420-4384 or email info@sweetteashakespeare.com.

Interview with Aaron Alderman

As we are getting ready to open Richard III and The Merry Wives of Windsor, we had the chance to interview Aaron Alderman on his experiences playing both Richard and Falstaff.

What drew you to playing Richard and Falstaff?

The short answer: I was asked. The more honest answer is that I first agreed to play Richard. When given the opportunity to play one of the greatest written roles with a company that I love and respect, very few things could compel me to say no. Falstaff was a role I’d preformed before and thoroughly enjoyed, and I was excited at the opportunity to play again.

What are the similarities between Richard and Falstaff?

The similarities are few but ones I find intriguing. There are two notable answers. They’re both men who have survived massive wars, and they are both men of notably unusual physicality.

What are the differences?

While there are many differences, the most notable are how they deal with their commonalities.

Richard thrived in war, Falstaff got through it. Richard cannot bear to be bored and left alone with himself, so much so that he murders enemies and friends to take over his kingdom. Falstaff would just as soon goof around and have the rest of his life be nothing but weekend partying followed by a lazy Sunday.

Richard is full of self loathing, and he has been told his whole life that he is disgusting and he despises the world for it, with a special destain for women. Falstaff is called or alluded to as fat at every given opportunity and he still thinks he’s God’s gift to the human race. He truly believes all women want him and all men want to be him (they just don’t know it yet).

How has playing both of these characters in repertory stretched you as an actor?

Goodness, I mean there’s the simple weight of the amount of text itself that’s difficult. The real challenge I find is the switch between characters. I likened it recently to the sport of Chess Boxing, where you box and play chess alternating at 5 minute intervals. The whole point being to physically engage, while keeping your mind lucid and alert, and conversely to engage your mind heavily without deactivating your body to let it cool… so yeah… it’s a bit like that.

Why should people see Richard III and The Merry Wives of Windsor?

These shows are very different experiences, and each one on their own will be a fun and magical engagement. However, combined, they are like coffee and cream and will leave, I believe, a happily satiated audience.

Get your tickets to see these plays in action at sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets.