Colleen Stovall grew up studying Shakespeare.
To share her passion for the celebrated playwright with the community, she founded Shakespeare Miami in 2006, with the support of the City of Miami.
The theater production company that produces William Shakespeare’s oeuvre celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Last Friday was the first performance in their annual Shakespeare in the Park series, the kick off to the commemoration of the 400 years since the Bard’s death, which takes place in April.
“Our community really wants this and they love it,” said Stovall, Producing Artistic Director of the company. “The best part is our shows are packed. People want to come. They have a warm-fuzzy about the idea of a Shakespeare in the Park, having a picnic, being outside.”
Last weekend crowds gathered in the Banyan Bowl auditorium of Pinecrest Gardens to watch a more modern comedic version of “Much Ado About Nothing.” The play is staged to be set in Michigan after the Civil War. The cast of professional actors tells the story of two sets of lovers – one pair deeply in love and the other stubborn and in denial – all confronting issues surrounding love, pride and the gender roles of the time.
Devin Tupler, 18, has been performing Shakespeare plays since she was 15 years old.
In “Much Ado About Nothing” she plays Hero, the shy, innocent girl who falls madly in love with Claudio, the immature arrogant soldier, who later spurns and humiliates Hero because of a plot by the malicious Don John.
“Shakespeare says so much, and yet at the same time he’s saying exactly what he means, and every single word and every single thing in Shakespeare is so deliberate, and you can just fall into your character because everything you need he has given you,” said Tupler.
Shakespeare Miami will be presenting “Much Ado About Nothing” on weekends until Jan. 30.
The next presentation will be at the Barnacle State Historic Park, at 3485 Main Highway in Coconut Grove on Friday, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Jan 23. The shows start at 8 p.m., inviting audiences to grab a blanket or lawn chairs where they can sit and watch the show.
On Saturdays the company also hosts afternoon projects for children to help kids better understand and relate to the writer and his plays. Activities such as seed planting for a make-your-own Shakespeare Garden, the making of a first folio and a Shakespeare photo-booth will be available.
On the weekend of Jan. 29-30, the play will be presented at the ArtsPark Amphitheater in Hollywood. Activities will also be available for children on that Saturday.