BWW Interview: Martin Andrews, creative director of SHAKESPEARE ON THE PLAZA at The Civic Plaza
According to Martin Andrews, creative director for Shakespeare on the Plaza, community is key when it comes to theatre in Albuquerque. He believes the festival is a way for people to, "have a communal experience and not be so self-segregated into our own groups." For him, it is the communal experience of theatre that allows people of different communities to form bonds and rally together.
Andrews' desire for a community to form through the arts is obvious in everything that he is doing as creative director of the festival. Along with Shakespeare on the Plaza, there is also a Shakespeare on the Rails event where excerpts from the productions are performed on Albuquerque's Rail Runner, ASL interpreted productions of both of the plays, a Youth Shakespeare program intended to bring the arts to the younger community, and a Creative Age Initiative where the casts of Macbeth and Comedy of Errors performed an act of each play at elder care facilities. There was even a collaborative public art program last year which continues to allow the public an opportunity to interact with the staging from last years' productions.
Andrews is looking to expand Shakespeare on the Plaza however he can in order to bring the Arts to members of the community who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to experience theatre. That is the reason why, for two years out of the four that it has been in existence, the event is entirely free and open to the public. This also makes it the only free theatre festival in the Southwest. According to Andrews, this allows the cast to do plays where anyone who wants to experience the arts could be in the audience. Andrews stated that this was his favorite thing about being creative director of Shakespeare on the Plaza. He shared a story that he felt conveyed just how important the arts are to the Albuquerque community: There was a 15-year-old homeless boy last year who attended every one of the performances offered, sitting with the rest of an audience that on occasion included politicians. After each performance, he would go up and talk to the actors. To Andrews, this expressed just how much people want to experience art and will take the opportunity when given the opportunity.
Overall, Andrews' creative vision for Shakespeare on the Plaza is to have it keep growing to include a wide range of people from Albuquerque and beyond. He hopes that this "will help the public have ownership of their Fest, which may then, lead to growth and excitement blossoming." For Andrews, there doesn't seem to be a limit to what can be accomplished.
Shakespeare on the Plaza runs from June 9, 2017 - July 2, 2017, every Thursday through Sunday. Shows are at the Civic Plaza and start at 7:30 pm, weather permitting. Starting at 6 p.m., there is pre-show entertainment as well as food available to purchase at local food trucks.
Photo credit: Shakespeare on the Plaza