Shakespeare Festival Update

The 5th Annual Nantucket Arts Council Shakespeare Festival begins on Sunday, July 12 and runs through Sunday, July 19, this year dedicated to the memory of Arts Council Board Member Philippe Schreiber. This year’s Festival is filled with well known local, national and international names in the realm of Shakespeare. Among the week’s featured events are appearances by Shakespeare impresario Curt Tofteland, mastermind of the Shakespeare Behind Bars program, world-renowned Shakespeare scholar and author Marjorie Garber of Harvard, and New York baritone Elliot Levine of the acclaimed a cappella sextet Western Wind.

Formerly the producing artistic director of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival over which he presided for twenty years, actor-director-Shakespeare impresario Curt Tofteland is the creator of the innovative program known as Shakespeare Behind Bars. Through the program, Tofteland works with inmates at the medium security Luther Luckett Correctional Complex to stage Shakespeare’s plays. In 2005, a documentary on Tofteland’s program by the same name was made by filmmakers Jilann and Hank Rogerson. Tofteland says, “It’s not a documentary about theatre, and yet it is. It’s not a documentary about Shakespeare, and yet it is. It’s not a documentary about prison reform, and yet it is. It’s inclusive of so many different populations.” The Shakespeare Behind Bars documentary will be shown during the Festival on Wednesday, July 15 at the Coffin School, with a Q&A with Tofteland immediately following the viewing. Free.

Dr. Marjorie Garber will speak Monday evening, July 13 at the Atheneum Great Hall at 7 p.m. Dr. Garber is currently chair of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University where she has served on the faculty since 1981. A member of the board of directors of the American Council of Learned Societies, Garber is the author of no less than 15 books and still more essays on a wide range of subjects, including the secret life of dogs, the role of the arts in America, and sexuality in our culture.

Dr. Garber is best known, however, for her knowledge of Shakespeare, which has been described as “breathtaking” and “thorough.” Her 2004 volume, Shakespeare After All, was chosen one of Newsweek’s ten best nonfiction books of the year, was awarded the 2005 Christian Gauss Book Award from Phi Beta Kappa, and catapulted her to almost “household name” status, certainly so with devotees of the Bard. Dr. Garber has published two books in the past year, Shakespeare and Modern Culture and Patronizing the Arts, in which she argues with characteristic wit and passion for the centrality of the arts and culture in education today, and puts forward a vision of the university as patron of the arts. Free.

More updates in the next issue.

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