TN Shakespeare Company Launches 11th Season With FREE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

TN Shakespeare Company Launches 11th Season With FREE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONATennessee Shakespeare Company officially launches its 11th season in September when it brings William Shakespeare's raucous, romantic comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona directed by Stephanie Shine to non-traditional sites throughout Shelby County.

Performance locations include outdoors at the Collierville train depot, Orange Mound Community Center, Germantown Library, Wiseacre Brewery, Stax Amphitheatre, Overton Square, International Harvester Park, Beale Street Landing, and the Benjamin Hooks Public Library.

The Free Shakespeare Shout-Out Series is sponsored by Evans/Petree, P.C. and features 11 performances in nine outdoor/indoor locations from September 8-29.

No tickets or reservations are required for the abbreviated, 75-minute performance. Families are encouraged to arrive early for seating. For more information: www.tnshakespeare.org or (901) 759-0604.

"Our inaugural Shout-Out Series last season really was a beautiful partnership with many notable venues in Memphis," says Carmen-maria Mandley, TSC's Shout-Out manager. "We saw the best of what Memphis can be, in a fast and furious tour of playgrounds, libraries, greenswards, train stations, community centers, and amphitheaters. Free Shakespeare proved to be a huge hit with Memphians."

A frequently overlooked, youthful play of Shakespeare's, The Two Gentlemen of Verona nevertheless provides some of his richest comedy and early-career indications of his skill in crafting genuine clowns and fools and integrating them into familiar tales of youth and maturity.

"The Two Gentlemen of Verona invites us to meet Shakespeare in his eager youth," says director Shine, "when so many ideas and storylines were swirling in his mind. In this raucous, loving, early play, he samples many situations he fully develops in later plays, so there is a charming familiarity about it, and yet, because the story is not well-known, it is full of surprises, too.

"The comedy is fresh and extremely generous, perfect for families of all ages. The trials of the young lovers may conjure fond memories for mature patrons. Younger patrons may find comfort and context as they experience two best friends juggling loyalty, first love, and chameleon-like affections. Everyone will love two of Shakespeare's friendliest and silliest clowns, Speed and Launce. And if that weren't enough, the play gives us a Boy Band, masked bandits, and an infamous dog. Delight awaits us. And laughter. Much laughter."

The players include Marquis Dijon Archuleta (Thurio), Shaleen Cholera (Valentine), Michael Khanlarian (Antonio/Duke of Milan/Host) Merit Koch (Sylvia), Carmen-maria Mandley (Speed/Lucetta/Outlaw), Nicolas Dureaux Picou (Proteus), Tyler Vernon (Panthino/Eglamour/Outlaw), Zach Williams (Launce/Outlaw), Symone Williams (Julia), and Leko (Crab the dog).

In the play, two close friends living in Verona, Valentine and Proteus, take leave of each other. Valentine is setting out on his own because Proteus will not leave his beloved Julia and has decided to stay in Verona. Julia is interested in Proteus' attention and treasures the love letter he has sent her, but feigns a mild rather than a passionate interest. Proteus' father, Antonio, sends him on a mission to Milan, however.

When he arrives at the Duke of Milan's court, Proteus finds that Valentine is there and has fallen in love with Silvia, the Duke's daughter. Silvia returns his love. Proteus, who has sworn love and fidelity to Julia, falls in love with Silvia at first sight. In the meantime, the Duke is planning the marriage of Silvia to the foolish Thurio. Valentine plans to elope with Silvia, but the jealous Proteus tells the Duke of the plot and Valentine is caught approaching Silvia's window. The Duke banishes Valentine, and Proteus woos Silvia with songs and declarations of love. She scorns him and reminds him about Julia.

Julia arrives in Milan, disguised as a page named Sebastian. Proteus sends her (as Sebastian) with the ring that she, Julia, has given him. Silvia has promised him a picture of herself, although she is still devoted to the absent Valentine.

In the meantime, Valentine has been captured by a band of aristocratic outlaws who make him their chief. Silvia persuades a courtier, Sir Eglamour, to accompany her to Mantua to find Valentine. Silvia then is also captured by the outlaws. The Duke and Thurio go after her, taking Proteus with them. Julia, still disguised, follows him. Proteus rescues Silvia. He tries to force himself on her, but Valentine prevents him. They quarrel and are reconciled. All of this is heard by Julia and, misunderstanding, she thinks that Valentine is yielding his interest in Silvia to Proteus. She faints in front of them. Proteus recognizes the ring he has given her, and when her identity is revealed Proteus' love for her is revived.

The outlaws capture the Duke and Thurio. They trick Thurio into showing his cowardice by denying Silvia. The Duke approves the marriage of Silvia and Valentine. The two couples agree to share a wedding day, and the Duke pardons the outlaws.

"At our first-time venues this September," says Mandley, "we are going to be giving snaps on the STAX amphitheatre stage, performing in historic Orange Mound at the city community center, making too much noise at the Benjamin Hooks Library, hitting the back yard at Loflin Yard, celebrating in the dog-friendly back porch of Wiseacre Brewery, and cruising down the Mighty Mississippi at Beale Street Landing in the heart of downtown. A unique part of the tour is when we head into the woods of Lakeland to perform in the stunning Harvester International Managerial Park. It's so exciting to see people surprised by and enjoying Shakespeare near their homes - wherever 'home' is."

TSC's generous season sponsors include FedEx; the family of Ernest G. and Pat Kelly; Nancy R. Copp; C. Cato Ealy; International Paper; Tennessee Arts Commission; the family of Owen and Margaret Wellford Tabor; Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund; International Paper; Evans/Petree, P.C.; Independent Bank; Arts Midwest; and The National Endowment for the Arts. TSC's season is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.

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