Finding the Love

By Hannah Marks

“We’re going to audition for a drunk Shakespeare show. Do you want to come?”

That was my first introduction to Sweet Tea Shakespeare. After moving in to our new apartment in Raleigh, my roommates said that they were making the drive out to Fayetteville to audition for a company that was doing a “lit” version of Romeo and Juliet.

“Sounds like fun,”  I said, and went right back to drinking my well-deserved margarita. A few days later, when they told me that they were cast as the titular characters, I don’t think any of us knew just how much this “drunk Shakespeare thing” would change us–as performers, and as people.

Romeo and JuliLit was the first thing I’d ever seen from STS. I was blown away by the way the  modern music and jokes fit in with Shakespeare’s text. Everyone knew what they were saying and why they were saying. They sounded like….real people, not actors standing on stage holding a skull lamenting about poor Yorick. Now, I’m a musical theatre girl. I grew up singing and being in chorus classes, but I never started doing theatre seriously until my junior year of high school. My junior year of college, I was in a production of Twelfth Night. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and I thought I was the worst person in the show. In fact, I almost didn’t audition for it because I always thought that Shakespeare was for the most elite actors, and I just didn’t fit into that part. But at STS, they showed me that Shakespeare can be fun and real. I was obsessed.

The moment that I clearly remember needing to be a part of a Sweet Tea show was in July of 2017. My roommate Tyler was the male lead in Cymbeline, and so our other roommate Mary Lynn and I drove up to see one Shakespeare’s lesser-known shows (at least to us). Mary Lynn and Tyler have been in several STS shows, and they’re fan favorites–not that I’m biased or anything. So we arrived at the Poe House and I was immediately breathless. This backyard was transformed into a wonderland. Fairy lights illuminated all different kinds and colors of fabrics, preshow was just starting, and the sweet tea was flowing. People were sitting on blankets or in lawn chairs, and the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society was there with animals you could adopt . Tyler ended up adopting a little chihuahua named Queso, who made his stage debut that night. It was the perfect scene.  Even after we had to move inside due to a thunderstorm, I was still in awe. Cymbeline was one of the most beautiful shows I had ever seen, and it still remains my favorite STS show. I had been hounded to audition by several people, but the timing never worked out. When the opportunity to be in Pericles came, I grabbed it. This has been unlike any other experience I’ve had. We joke around in rehearsals, we make up things when we don’t know what to do, and we are over the top, as most theatre people are. But when you strip away the sets, and the music, and the costumes, only two things remain: you have to find the honesty in the moments. You have to find the love. Throughout Pericles, and my entire interaction with STS, I’ve been welcomed into this circle of artists and fallen in love again, with these people, with Shakespeare, with theatre. And that’s been the greatest gift I could ask for.

Fall in love with Pericles and The Tempest! Tickets available at http://sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets.

Photo Credit: Thistle & Sun Photography

Better Know a Venue: Cape Fear Botanical Garden

Much of the action of LITsummer takes place in the forest, so what could be more appropriate than seeing it in a garden? And not just any garden–Fayetteville’s fixture for flora, Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Taryn Hughes, CFBG’s marketing manager, answered some questions about this local favorite.

What makes Cape Fear Botanical Garden a great place to see a show?

Cape Fear Botanical Garden is the best place to see a show because of the beautiful natural backdrops our venue has to offer. Shakespeare was historically performed in outside theaters, so the Garden is the perfect place to reconnect with the history of seeing a Shakespearean play.

What is your favorite event you’ve held?

We have several wonderful events. One of my personal favorites is Homegrown Arts Festival. We bring local, “homegrown” Fayetteville artists into the Garden to showcase their work. We hope to grow it every year to include all forms of art! It’s a wonderful feeling seeing the community support their local artists and to see the artists support each other too.

What made you decide to host another LIT performance?

We decided to host another LIT performance because we love to support the arts. We think the LIT series is a wonderful, quirky event Fayetteville offers, and we want to be a part of it!

What draws people to the Garden?

The Garden offers engaging cultural events to inspire and excite, educational activities to energize, and peaceful spots to refresh. Visitors of all ages are welcome.

Host to any special occasion, our lovely Wyatt Visitors Pavilion Complex is the perfect complement to our Garden and the venue for weddings, business and military functions, workshops and more. Guests can stroll along our scenic river trail with water views, take in a guided tour, relax on our patio overlooking the Cypress Pond, and take home the perfect gift from our destination gift shop.

The mission of Cape Fear Botanical Garden is to transform people’s relationship with plants and the natural world.  We look forward to your visit!

LITsummer will be at Cape Fear Botanical Garden on November 16 and 17. Click here for tickets!