WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Jerry, author & professor
As I sat through another Hoosier Shakes play (and their various entertaining segues), the quality and creative use of assets were astounding. The acting cast was Broadway professional. The mélange of profiles among the platform staff, was amazing. The use of space and props, and interaction with the crowd were both engaging and enjoyable. Afterward I checked with the director/founder on their overall budget, wondering how it was possible to produce such high levels in rural communities. The blessing to the area is indeed special. Oversized in some ways, but not underappreciated. The interaction between such gifted individuals on a team and accessible for a few special weeks is a treat for smaller markets—actually, for any market.
Dan, executive director
I am grateful for the work that Hoosier Shakespeare Festival is doing. In times of impoverished civil discourse, HSF delivers redemptive beauty that serves the communities of central Indiana. They present the work of the world’s greatest playwright with excellence, preserving a 500-year-old artistic tradition, connecting people to literature and history that has shaped Western culture. In doing so, they present enduring human questions that challenge their audiences to consider the world from different perspectives and engage in much-needed empathy. I had the privilege of facilitating a talkback with the cast after their performance of Macbeth in Muncie. A common sentiment expressed by the audience was that HSF’s interpretation of the play, which highlighted Lady Macbeth’s broken humanity and unbearable regret, challenged them to reconsider the power forgiveness and redemption and to look with more generous eyes upon the “other” in their own lives. I am grateful for the work of HSF and for the generosity of those that make that work possible.
I greatly appreciate the high level of acting, directing, costumes, production, and music that Hoosier Shakes brings to our community. For those of us in the arts, it is extremely encouraging to have this high quality of performance within close driving distance! It is healing, enriching, and inspiring for our spirits which continuously pour into our students throughout the school year. For a small, lower-income community, it is extremely educational, entertaining, and enriching for many people who would not otherwise have an opportunity to view Shakespeare’s works. I have been pleased to bring guests from out of town, who are always pleasantly surprised at the professionalism of this troupe. I have also rejoiced to bring guests who might not otherwise attend a Shakespeare play, who are delighted with the personal and relatable performances and then are eager to attend again!
The play was “Macbeth.” The venue was a place called “the barn” at Matter Park in Marion, that seemed, well, Shakespearean. High ceiling, much rough sawed timber, paneless and shuttered windows and double-door entrances on three sides. Not the Globe, certainly not intentionally, but appropriate nonetheless.
A few chairs are scattered around the room, mostly collapsible lawn seating. But none is inside the chalk line at the outer perimeter of the open area, the corners of this stage where the young actors are coming to life.
Do not cross the chalk line, we are cautioned. Beyond here be Scotland, Inverness Castle and the intrigue of the 11th Century.
It is the very special world created by the Hoosier Shakes troupe, a dozen talented and ambitious young men and women now in their seventh summer season of bringing the greatest playwright from the river Avon closer to the banks of the Mississinewa and a half-dozen other venues within an hour of Marion.
The cast, drawn from around the nation – this season, from among 170 who auditioned -- changes annually, but the mission remains: To bring Shakespeare to the lives of real people in real America with up-close-and-personal theater. This year it is “Macbeth” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
The curtain would go up if, indeed, there were a curtain, but there is not . . . . and the Bard’s words begin to flow: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.”
And it concludes with what must be the first and only time that William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” has dissolved seamlessly into the music of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Perfect.
I had the opportunity recently to see a performance of Macbeth produced by the Hoosier Shakespeare Festival troupe in Kokomo, Indiana. With the heat of the day accompanying the fading sunlight in the early Indiana evening, one might be forgiven for mediocre expectations for what amounted to a free show on a small Midwest campus. Instead, the performance began with engaging banter with the audience and rousing renditions of popular songs sung by what proved to be characters of the Scottish Play, examples include Imagine Dragons’ Demons sung by Macbeth himself and Bad Romance by his Lady.
The play itself was faithfully presented in all its glory by a tremendously talented cast who ranged over the entirety of the space. Interacting with the patrons in such a way as to invite them into the story, to share in the tension, the danger, and the horror. The cast and crew masterfully told the story, even while staying true to the script, in a way that seemed fresh and accessible. My date and I had a wonderful time and hope to see many future productions from Hoosier Shakespeare Festival!
Joe, school counselor