Patron Todd Barnell attended our recent Soiree where we previewed scenes from the 2018 Season: Flesh and Blood. Directors were able to talk about their upcoming productions and Dawn Tucker, Executive Director, shared her vision for a Titus Andronicus focused on the very personal stories of these families, the dark humor of the play, and a female Titus who can tell this story of a war veteran from the perspective of a mother (an increasingly more common tale). Todd shared this letter with us, and we wanted to share it with you!
“Thank you for inviting me to the Flagstaff Shakespeare event. I was so fascinated by the approach you will be taking with Titus. I’ve never seen it performed, but I did read it (quite a few years ago) and have also read various discussions about it. I actually read [Titus] first, then read some articles. That was an interesting experience for me because I found myself…well, rather shaken after just reading it. But then I read a few people … talking about how it was actually an extraordinarily dark, but still terribly humorous, play. Being someone who tends to be a little too literal at times, I must admit I missed the humor in my read-through! One of the many things I love about your vision (and others on your team) is how you are including music. I also really like your idea of casting a woman in the title role, and your reasoning behind that choice. I think that is going to create a really interesting feel.
As excited as I am to finally see Titus, I must admit I am almost sick with anticipation about The Tempest. It is funny, but I’ve found myself thinking about that play quite a bit recently. When I was asked to present at this year’s Robert Burns Night, I developed a talk called Burns Without Borders, where I explored the global legacy of Scotland’s Bard. My story was actually personal, as I was exposed to his poetry back in the 80s by a professor I revered. I was majoring in African Studies at the time, and my mentor, who was an Ibo from West Africa, took me under his wing. He set up special office hours with me where he introduced me to his language, and gave me a variety of poems and plays to read, as well as political and historical articles. Well, in addition to introducing me to Burns, he also introduced me to Shakespeare, giving me a copy of The Tempest. I guess that set the stage for my odd relationship with Shakespeare: I’ve read a lot more of his plays than I’ve ever actually seen. I’ve rarely found myself in a situation where I had the chance to actually see any of his plays performed, which is why I was over the moon when you started FlagShakes! (Actually it wasn’t until the late 90s that I finally got to see some Shakespeare on stage. Patrick Stewart came to Indianapolis and performed his one-man show “Heavy Lies the Crown.” I nearly died with joy.)
Anyway – I’m terribly excited about this season and I can’t wait to see what you and your amazingly talented team put together!”