I’m a minimalist. Well, at least I’m trying to be. I still have a lot of stuff in my house, but I’m working on it. After all, if you talk to many minimalists, they will tell you it’s not so much how many things a person owns, as it is the question of whether or not the things owned add value to the individual’s life. One of the key values of a minimalist is that experiences are more important than physical things. In this, I feel that my views aline.
Physical things are needy. They may not be able to talk, but they demand our attention. Knick-knacks require dusting. Electronics require regular updates. Silver requires polishing. Clothes require laundering. The list goes on. The more we have, the more time it takes to tend to our items. Experiences, on the other hand, just require our attention once, in the moment. The only demand is to “be in the moment,” to participate in the joy the new experience brings.
Here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, our goal is to gather our audiences and patrons around experiences. We create performances of Shakespeare plays, podcasts, radio theatre performances of Restoration dramas, and concerts. We create workshops. We create inter-active improvisational interpretations of Shakespeare’s works. We create training grounds for student artists to learn about theatre and improve their reading skills. We recognize that these experiences add value to life. They build community. They educate. They make us laugh; they make us cry. They inspire us to be better people.
This year, I’d like to encourage you to think minimally as you shop for gift ideas. What experiences can you give this year? We have some pretty cool opportunities, if I do say so myself. For starters, check out these awesome Holiday Pass to all our upcoming digital productions this holiday season! Or if you have any children in your life, consider enrolling them in our Green Tea or Little Green Tea Companies!
Peace, Love, Shakespeare, and Happy Holidays!
Did you know you can catch the first ever Sweet Tea Shakespeare performance featuring our new playhouse on any screen of you choice, now through the end November? Get your tickets to stream Knight’s Tale right from your living room and see this incredible new set piece, made possible by our generous donors and a grant from the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland Co. We had such a blast with this piece, transforming it into prisons and temples by using the multiple doors and levels for this action packed production. We look forward to bringing the new playhouse to our signature live outdoor performances in the future, but in the meantime, we hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to bring our new “living room” to yours.
Where are my fellow introverts?
Earlier this week, I was discussing with Assistant Artistic Director Claire Martin some of the ingenuity that has been birthed from necessity this year. As we discussed the recent live stream performance of The Rover she directed as part of the Digital Restoration Series. As artists, we have had to learn how to keep the integral parts of a Sweet Tea Shakespeare performance, such as audience interaction and intimate scenes over Zoom. As we talked, I was amazed to see that it was in fact possible to still integrate these elements, opening doors to new opportunities, such as working with artists from all over the globe.
One of my favorite opportunities, as an introvert, is the ability to watch theatre from the comfort of my living room, something nearly unimaginable back in March. Shakespeare in pajamas? Count me in! Next on the docket is our filmed live action production of Shakespeare’s Knight’s Tale, otherwise known as Two Noble Kinsmen. Inspired by Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, this story follows the tale of two knights captured by Theseus, Duke of Athens, and their love for an inspiring woman of the court, Emilia. Trouble stirs when the daughter of their jailer falls in love with one of them and sets in motion a series of events that rocks the life of everyone involved. Both celebratory and serious, Knight’s Tale is a beautiful, visually inspiring, and sensory play. I had the privilege to work on this production, so I hope many will take the opportunity to watch. It really could not be any simpler. Buy your tickets, grab your snacks, put on your cozy pants, and curl up in front of the tv for a Sweet Tea Shakespeare experience in your living room. Stir up your tickets here.
Peace, Love, and Shakespeare,
“How was your day?”
This question opened tonight’s rehearsal for the next Sweet Tea Shakespeare Hours concert installment, as we waited on musicians and vocalists to trickle in from their day jobs. The verdict: It was a very Monday kind of day for many of us. So as we waited for our company to assemble, we spilled the tea of how our day had been thus far. And we spilled that tea, knowing that we all cared to hear each other’s answer, and that it mattered. (Empathy. Theatre teaches it. It’s pretty awesome.)
Once most of us assembled, we prepared to get down to business. But not before company member and the concert music director for this installment, Aaron Alderman, made us all stand up and shake off all the junk from earlier today. It reminded me of why we gather together to make music, to make theatre. We gather for community. We gather for escape from the mundane and the frustrating parts of life. I imagine this is why Shakespeare and his contemporaries gathered as well. I like to think this was the reason.
So yes, we are stirring up a new concert installment for you for later release, as well as some new podcast episodes and radio theatre performance. Not to mention that Green Tea is working on filming their production of The Magician’s Nephew. Exciting things are coming. And we are excited to share it with you. But we are also excited to gather around as a community, and shake off the junk life throws. We hope you will join us.
I acted in my first play when I was 12 years old. It was the musical Oliver! at a small community theatre. I played an orphan boy in the ensemble. I had grown up to that point singing in the children’s choir at church and taking ballet lessons, but this was my first real experience acting. Little did I know then how much it would impact my life.
I would later go on to earn my undergraduate and graduate degrees in theatre, focusing in on education. If you have ever spent time teaching an art, you understand the importance of being able to communicate why your art is vital to the educational experience of every child. I have spent a lot of time dedicated to answering that question for myself. Why is theatre important? Why is it an important part of child development? I have listed some (this is by no means comprehensive) below:
- Theatre teaches empathy
- Theatre fosters creativity
- Theatre promotes literature and other art forms
- Theatre teaches history
- Theatre builds self esteem
- Theatre teaches that people have different gifts, and that it takes all these gifts to create theatre magic
The list could go on and on. And when you throw Shakespeare in the mix, you add in language skills as well. Here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we have long known that Shakespeare and theatre are not just for the grown ups, inspiring our Green Tea program. We are thrilled to have recently extended that offering to younger students, now reaching those as young as in elementary school! It’s not just work though. Our instructors know how to bring the fun! This is a great opportunity for kids of all ages to break out of the ordinary, have fun, socialize, and learn something new! But if you are not a kid, or if your child is not quite ready to take the leap into Green Tea yet, that’s ok. There’s still ways to reap the benefits from theatre. Be an audience member and support our Green Tea actors by coming to our production of The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis as dramatized by Aurand Harris. It’s a magical experience you won’t want to miss!
Hope to see you there!
One thing you might learn after attending a Sweet Tea Shakespeare performance or two is that Shakespeare is not where our passion ends. As often as possible, we love to make food and drink offerings available for purchase and to enjoy during our shows. We love to highlight local businesses, and occasionally perform at local restaurants, bars, and breweries.
But beyond edible fare at our plays, the company loves to gather around a table. Traditionally, (though not in our current environment) the first rehearsal of a play starts with a meeting, a read-through, and a good old fashioned potluck. There is nothing like bonding around a table!
Though things may be a little different right now, we hope you will still join us in gathering ’round the table- right from the comfort of your own home. Sweet Tea Shakespeare brings you our Hours podcast series, including After Hours, Cocktail Hours, and Lunch Hours. In this podcast, we explore Shakespeare’s plays, staging practices, and just all the little things that go on in making a play. Join us for exclusive content and interviews with actors, directors, designers, crew, and all the wonderful people who make Sweet Tea Shakespeare happen! This content is exclusively available for download for our Patreon members, for just $5 a month! Pull up a chair, grab a drink and maybe a sandwich, and enjoy good old conversations between our company members and friends.
This project is supported by the Arts Council in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.