UW-Madison celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare with a successful festival

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by Eva Wieland, Arts Editorial Assistant

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Literature Festival celebrated various forms of writing at the Memorial Union last Wednesday for the sixth year in a row. The completely student organized event was put together by the Wisconsin Union Directorate Publications Committee and reached out to both campus and community members.

The 2016 theme was Shakespeare in Wisconsin, serving as a tribute to Shakespearean works and their preservation on stage. The festival also highlighted Shakespeare’s everlasting influence on artists today, and the evolution of various techniques.

Events included:

A performance from Madison’s Young Shakespeare Players featuring a selection of scenes from some of Shakespeare’s plays, including The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Winter’s Tale.

American Players Theatre hosted Behind the Scenes at APT to explain how APT plays come together. The APT is a group that performs classic plays on an outdoor stage in the middle of the Wisconsin woods. Its goal is to create the most authentic theatre experience for their audiences. All of the costumes and props are hand crafted and designed, the set is minimalistic and the actors are highly trained.

Wheelhouse Studios hosted a free art session to paint Shakespeare quotes on canvases. A popular attraction, many visitors grabbed a brush to explore Shakespeare’s wise words through paint. Even hundreds of years later, Shakespeare’s words are still inspiring society.

APT Artistic Director Brenda DeVita and Associate Artistic Director Carey Cannon explained how APT has been able to thrive as a classical theatre group for 37 years in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin with their talk, “Why Shakespeare?”. They also explored the ways in which classical theatre, especially Shakespeare, is still relevant today. Through his chosen themes and depictions of human flaws, his work still appeals to modern audiences.

Anna Deavere Smith, an American actress with roles in the television shows West Wing and Nurse Jackie, also talked to the audience as a part of the Distinguished Lecture Series. Smith is also a playwright, and professor who works as a progressive woman of the arts. Winning multiples arts awards, her work focuses on beauty, character and mankind.

Student screenwriters from UW organization Fade In performed for an open mic event and a sonnet contest occurred during Lit After Dark.

This year’s festival was an obvious success based on the high number of students and community members who traveled through Memorial Union to learn about the work of Shakespeare and its continued impact on modern society.

Image Source:Wisconsin Union Directorate Publications Committee

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