Appalachian Shakespeare Project launching

HARROGATE, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial University School of Arts, Humanities and Social Science faculty member Mark McGinley will launch the Appalachian Shakespeare Project later this summer with an outdoor performance of an Appalachian adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”

Auditions for the project will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. June 29-30 at the LMU Cumberland Gap Convention Center, located at 601 Colwyn Street.

Dr. Natalie Spar, assistant professor of English at LMU, has adapted the Bard’s classic into Appalachian dialect, translating the dialog and changing the setting to East Tennessee. McGinley, an assistant professor of theater, will direct the production and is the architect behind the Appalachian Shakespeare Project, which he intends to be an annual event.

“My family has been in Appalachia for 300 years,” McGinley said. “This project is a chance for me to combine two things I truly love; East Tennessee and Shakespeare. I think this is an excellent opportunity to use Shakespeare to tell a distinctly Appalachian story that will both entertain and celebrate our cultural heritage.”

McGinley hopes to cast the production entirely from the community and will utilize LMU theater students as designers, carpenters, stage managers and production assistants. Participants cast in fighting roles will receive free stage fighting training using knives, whips, tomahawks as well as unarmed combat. Auditions will include cold readings from the script, and a one minute monologue should be prepared.

The production will run over two weeks at Russell Berkau Park in Cumberland Gap, premiering Aug. 12. Performances will take place Aug. 12-15 and 20-22.

The Appalachian Shakespeare Project is a part of LMU’s Arts In the Gap summer programming and is made possible through grant funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

With the mission to cultivate the arts for the benefit of all Tennesseans and their communities, the Tennessee Arts Commission funds a variety of arts projects through several grant categories. In 2013, through the Tennessee Arts Commission grant programs, $6.3 million was invested across Tennessee in all 95 counties to over 600 organizations, over half of which were schools.

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