This August, the MBU S&P MFA class of 2022 introduced their theater company: Polaris Shakespeare Company.
The driving force behind Polaris’s theater company is bringing people together. Polaris’ website states that they hope to “foster a sense of connection and community in a period of extreme isolation and social disconnect.” After almost two years of personal isolation due to quarantine restrictions, previously flourishing communities have deteriorated or disbanded altogether. Polaris hopes to use theater, like the North Star itself, as a beacon of light to guide people back together when they may be feeling lonely and lost.
At first glance, the plays in Polaris’ season seem vastly different in theme and genre. As You Like It is a pastoral comedy with multiple love triangles. Coriolanus is a gritty war drama that questions class differences. Cymbeline is a princess story with Brother’s Grimm-esque troubling details. The Courage to Right a Woman’s Wrongs is a witty Spanish Golden age comedy defying gender roles. The Revenger’s Tragedy is a thriller with macabre-comedic elements focusing on vengeance. However, through their poster design, Polaris suggests that their company will find ways to showcase parallels between these shows.
Additionally, these stories are not bound by gender or sexuality. Look for unique casting choices as directors and actors explore gender and sexuality in these plays:
- The Devised Show: Between the Beats (August 29th & 30th)
- As You Like It (October 3rd and 4th)
- Coriolanus (December 4th and 5th)
- Cymbeline (December 4th and 5th)
- The Courage to Right a Woman’s Wrongs (Spring 2022)
- The Revenger’s Tragedy (Spring 2022)
MBU MFA companies typically tour their shows in the spring, but this was cancelled for the past two years due to COVID. Keep a close eye on their websites for information about tour dates and additional performances!
For more information about the Polaris Shakespeare Company, visit:
- Their website at: https://www.polarisshakespeareco.com/
- Their Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/polarisshakespeareco
- Their Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/polarisshakespearecompany/
Find the company’s full press release announcement below:
For Immediate Release:
Polaris Shakespeare Company, the 2021-2022 MFA company of Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance graduate program, in association with the American Shakespeare Center, announces their upcoming season of five plays, bringing professional quality theatre and educational workshops to local schools and performance venues throughout the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. We look forward to honoring the 10th anniversary of the Shakespeare and Performance MFA program – and the 20th anniversary of the entire S&P program – by showcasing the unique and exciting features of this program for the Mary Baldwin community and prospective students.
Polaris Shakespeare is a company, consisting of eleven theatre practitioners, that produces works of Shakespeare and other early modern playwrights, with an interest in expanding the early modern canon, particularly with our centerpiece guest directed production in the spring. In our season we explore themes of disguise and identity, isolation and community, and revenge and forgiveness. During this period of extreme social isolation and social disconnect, we hope to foster a sense of connection and community through our performances and educational work.
We begin our season with a one-hour version of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, designed to tour to both schools and colleges. This production will have an initial run at the outdoor Rose Theatre in Staunton on October 3rd and 4th. Join us as we venture down the rabbit hole in this Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired production and escape into the forest of Arden where new friendships form, love is explored, and family is reunited.
Small-scale productions of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and Cymbeline will open December 4th and 5th at MBU @ the Wharf in Staunton. Our small-scale productions are performed by a cast of only five actors each, allowing for inventive doubling and staging opportunities to tell the full story. Coriolanus is a complex tragedy that gives us a stark look at the triumphs and failures of a tragic hero to highlight the pitfalls of pride and the danger of arrogance. Cymbeline is a magical, violent, and beguiling comedy that centers on a young woman’s journey to discover her full potential to transform her community through loyalty and compassion. Both productions will open December 4th and 5th and community touring performances will be available starting in January 2022.
In the spring, Polaris will first take on Ana Caro’s The Courage to Right a Woman’s Wrongs, guest directed by Dawn Monique Williams and performed at the Blackfriars Playhouse. You will not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this rarely produced Spanish Golden Age comic masterpiece that tells a story of wild intrigue and lively ingenuity as one woman defies social expectations of gender in order to bring her fickle lover to justice and restore her lost honor.
Our final offering is The Revenger’s Tragedy by Thomas Middleton, a mesmerizing thriller and black comedy that serves as a searing examination of humankind’s social need for justice and our animal desire for vengeance. Produced in a format based on early modern rehearsal practices, Polaris Shakespeare will have approximately one week to collaboratively put the play on its feet without any director. This style of rehearsal allows the company to use performance as research to understand some of the conditions under which Shakespeare and his contemporaries may have worked.
Finally, we will hold a festival of our season the first week in April at both the Blackfriars Playhouse and MBU @ the Wharf. In addition to a reprise of the season’s plays, there will be many other events designed to showcase the academic and artistic work of our company throughout the year. For performance dates and to learn more about our company, visit our website at www.polarisshakepeareco.com, our Facebook page: Polaris Shakespeare Company, or our Instagram: @polarisshakespearecompany.
Polaris Shakespeare Company members:
Callie Banholzer, Michael Blackwood, Haley Davis, Robert Thomas Gotschall, Micaela Harmon, Amy Elizabeth Ippolito, Amber James, Amy Kimbrough, Thomas K. Prater, Helen Sanders, Trent Stephens
Doreen Bechtol, Molly Seremet, Ralph Cohen, Matthew Davies, Paul Menzer
For more information: