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Shakespeare festival becomes reality

Shakespeare lives! -- The Dark Lady of the Sonnets  (Special Sanders, far right) hides behind William Shakespeare  (Todd Kelley, center), cowering from Queen Elizabeth (Rhiannon Cabaniss), after striking both in a jealous rage. Bernard Shaw's  "The Dark Lady of the Sonnets" will be performed during the Shakespeare festival Tuesday, April 26. English adjunct faculty member Ed Brinson will play the Warder.
Todd Kelley
Staff Writer

   Though the path they walk has been bumpy, a group of University of Arkansas at Monticello students rose above adversity to make the Shakespeare Festival a reality.

    The festival, originally intended for April 21, had to be cancelled due to scheduling conflicts, but fret not lovers of Shakespeare. The Harris Recital Hall (located in the Music Hall, with a seating capacity of approximately eighty people) will be graced by the works of history's greatest bard on April 26 at 7 p.m.

   Julie Sparks, faculty adviser to the performing group, gives hard-to-dispute reasons for enjoying the fruit of their hard work.

   "Of course, English majors and theatre people always love Shakespeare--he's the fountainhead for both disciplines, but Shakespeare isn't their sole property: He is part of the inheritance of every human being. His plays and poems are full of insights and wisdom that everyone can use, and they're full of fun and beauty, too. I hope the festival can present his words in all their variety so that even people who don't think of themselves as literary or arty can find something to love in the bard," Sparks said.

   This festival, along with a staged reading of the musical "Wealth and How Not To Avoid It," shows the dedication that Sparks has to bring a touch of theater to this campus.

   The club began the initial stages of ratification on April 19 of this year, but an e-mail sent to former dean of Arts and Humanities and current Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs David Ray on June 16, 2003 shows how long Sparks has worked on this idea.

   "In the latest catalog statement of our department's goals, we asserted that our mission is to 'offer significant exposure to, among other things, artistic expression and to provide opportunities for aesthetic experiences in art'," it states. "At present, I believe we offer plenty of good musical performances and visual art. However, there is very little opportunity for our students to see live theater, particularly serious 'grown up' plays. I believe that this is a serious problem because good live theatrical performances provide not just pleasant entertainment, but a connection to an important cultural tradition."

    Clay Brown, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, said he received an e-mail  in January from Sparks asking what she needed to do for the club to be recognized.

   "Any organization that wants to be recognized has to draft a constitution, then I take it before the Student Affairs Committee, which is made up of students, faculty and staff. They vote on it, then it is passed on to the faculty assembly. The hard part is making the constitution," Brown said.

  The Assembly will not meet and vote to officially recognize the theatre club until May 2.

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The Voice, 2005
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