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UPIKE hosts American Shakespeare Center

January 17, 2017 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
‘Man’s Best Friend’ steals the spotlight in The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The University of Pikeville will host the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) 2016/17 Hungry Hearts Tour production of William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m., in Booth Auditorium.

Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare saves dogs’ lives and incites laughter with The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Shakespeare’s story of friendship is brought to life on stage by Andrew Goldwasser as Launce and a dog from a local animal shelter as his faithful canine companion, Crab. UPIKE will work with the animal shelter to provide the ASC with a dog for their performance on Jan 26. In the four scenes in which Crab appears, Goldwasser will be tasked with adapting his performance to highlight the dog’s individual personality, resulting in moments of unexpected comedy and poignancy. Audiences will delight in the performance of the amateur canine actor and will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the shelter to discuss adoption of “Crab” or any of his fellows after the show.

Throughout the 2016/17 Hungry Hearts Tour the American Shakespeare Center will be partnering with venues and local shelters across the country to provide a new and adoptable “Crab” at each stop. The tour’s partnership with venues and local shelters continues a Two Gentlemen of Verona tradition that began with the ASC Summer/Fall Season’s 2012 production. The ASC then partnered with Augusta Dog Adoptions to cast a variety of adoptable dogs in the role of Crab. The production resulted in several successful adoptions. The ASC and UPIKE hope that the 2016/17 Hungry Hearts Tour will help pets find their “forever homes” within the audience of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The American Shakespeare Center brings a unique performance style to the university, blending Shakespeare’s stage craft with modern sensibility. The company uses Shakespeare’s staging conditions including universal lighting, minimal sets, doubling, cross-gender casting and music. In Shakespeare’s day, the company couldn’t turn the lights out on the audience; actors and audience shared the same light. The Hungry Hearts Tour leaves the lights on for a type of audience contact rarely seen in modern day theatre. Audience members share directly in the action onstage and can watch each other laugh, smile and “ahhhh” at Crab’s antics.

The 2016/17 Hungry Hearts production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona features two of Shakespeare’s strong female heroines with ASC newcomer Sara J. Griffin as Julia and ASC vet Zoe Speas as Sylvia. The cast also includes Josh Clark as Proteus, and returning ASC tour actors Ross Neal as Valentine and Andrew Goldwasser as Launce. Other returning actors from the 2015/16 Dangerous Dreams Tour are Cordell Cole and Aleca Piper. Rounding out the cast are J.C. Long, Kyle Powell, Ronald Rom├ín, and Constance Swain.

The performance is hosted by the UPIKE Division of Humanities. Tickets for The Two Gentlemen of Verona are $5 for general admission and available at the door. Admission is free with UPIKE I.D. The live musical prelude will begin at 7 p.m. and the performance at 7:30 p.m., in Booth Auditorium located in Record Memorial Building.

Since 1988, the American Shakespeare Center has toured the country with shows incorporating Shakespeare’s staging conditions. Based out of Staunton, Va., the company mission is to recover the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theatre, language and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. The ASC’s Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, is open year-round for productions of classic plays, which have been hailed by The Washington Post as “shamelessly entertaining” and by The Boston Globe as “phenomenal … bursting with energy.” Founded in 1988 as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, the organization became the American Shakespeare Center in 2005 and can be found online at



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