“The Battle of Shakespeare’s Sexes,” an original 90-minute compilation of scenes featuring some of the Bard’s hardest battling lovers, will be performed in Smithers and Montgomery next week on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, respectively.
Christiana Clark and Jeremy Gallardo will portray several different couples, both comic ones such as Kate and Petruchio from “The Taming of Shrew” as well tragic such as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
Charleston poet Crystal Good will moderate an audience discussion with the actors following each scene about how gender issues, communications and relationships have changed in the four centuries since Shakespeare wrote and how they remain the same today, according to Beach Vickers. He is founding artistic director of Montgomery’s The Shakespeare Studio which is sponsoring the performances along with the City of Smithers.
Clark and Gallardo are professionals who have acted at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Clark will return to her eighth season there next year.
Vickers and his Shakespeare co-producer Tory Casey happened to attend a talk by Clark about the Oregon theater when they attended the festival in 2017. They invited her to visit Montgomery, as she first did in 2018 when she performed her original solo piece called “HeARTistic” in the Montgomery Community Center, which is the former David S. Long Alumni Center on Third Avenue.
Next week she returns there with fellow actor Jeremy Gallardo for the original “Battle” series.
Both years’ programs were made possible by grants from the West Virginia Humanities Council, noted Vickers.
Vickers and Casey hope eventually to create a festival of Shakespeare in Montgomery, where he was born and lives. In the meantime, they are arranging for artists from other localities such as Oregon Shakespeare and Clarksburg’s Rustic Mechanicals theater troupe, who did “As You Like It” outdoors at the Park at Fifth and Lee this summer, to perform here.
“We are hoping to grow enough public interest and support for Shakespeare and live theater that we can enlarge and produce our own shows locally,” he said. “First, we need attendance to grow, and so please try not to miss this show.”
Public performances of “The Battle of Shakespeare’s Sexes” are suitable for all ages, Vickers said.
Admission is free, except for the show at Vintage Theater in Clarksburg, where a $7 donation per person will be requested to support the theater’s nonprofit Rustic Mechanicals, the state’s only professional Shakespeare touring troupe, said Vickers.
“In search of audiences, we invite you to attend one of five public shows we have scheduled in five places next week,” he said. “It’s free, and so give us a try and leave if you don’t like it.”
“I’ll bet you’ll love it,” he added.
The performance schedule is as follows:
Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. – Concord University, Pais Fellowship Hall at University Point, 1000 Vermillion St., Athens, WV 24712
Nov. 12, 1:15 p.m. – Smithers Recreation Room (beside City Hall), 518 Michigan Ave., Smithers, WV 25186. All ages welcome immediately following the regular senior citizens lunch.
Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m. – Taylor Books, 226 Capitol St., Charleston, WV 25301
Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. – Montgomery Community Center, 612 3rd Ave., Montgomery, WV 25136
Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. – Vintage Theatre, 305 Washington Ave., Clarksburg, WV 26301
Clark and Gallardo will also perform student-oriented shows during the week at Capitol High in Charleston, Riverside High in Belle and Valley Middle in Smithers.
In addition to sponsorship by Smithers and the state Humanities Council, other supporters include BridgeValley Community College, Montgomery Woman’s Club and its president, Sharon Parks, Eagles Aerie 1040 of Montgomery and its Women’s Auxiliary, City of Montgomery Parks Board, Morris Creek Watershed Association in Montgomery and Vintage Theater in Clarksburg.