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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Shakespeare & Love!

A guest post from Kelly Medwick, FSC Board Member
(originally posted on Firespring's culture blog, 12/20/2016)

Every love story has a history—some richer than others. We met in a bar, or online, or during a teeth cleaning or after a steel cage match.

For me and my husband Mike, our history began in the late 16th Century. If it wasn’t for Shakespeare and our college English professor’s Shakespeare theatre company, we would have never met. And the same goes for about a dozen couples and families we know and love.

So, Doc (Dr. Erath to hoi polloi) at the College of New Jersey was a founding director of a nonprofit repertory theatre originally called Shakespeare ‘69. It incorporated the following year and changed its name to the more PG-rated Shakespeare ‘70. It’s still rockin’ today.

It was a invitation-only company, and as fortune would have it, I got invited. 

During an Early Modern Drama class, Doc asked me to live read a passage from an 18th Century satirical play called She Stoops to Conquer. Turns out, I was (and am) pretty good at both stooping and conquering, and became the show’s intern – an esteemed position with the title “head peon.” I bonded with the cast and crew, and as that show was wrapping up, I was feeling blue that I’d be going back to spending my free time doing things like personal grooming and laundry. 

The company was abuzz about the summer outdoor performance of Much Ado About Nothing. I wasn’t expecting to be asked to play a role. I was just a peon, after all.

But then Doc asked me to play Hero. The ingenue. I was so shocked, I thought he was joking. Then his wife Gail, our costumer, pulled me aside and started wrapping measuring tape around the parts that matter to dressmakers, and I knew this was going down for real. 

I’d already gotten to know Mike from She Stoops. He was given a part plus stage management duties for Much Ado. He had come up through the head peon ranks as well. Several of us former peons, as well as the local pros, hung out quite a bit. We had a gift for cracking each other up. Practicing witty banter has its social benefits.

About 10 years later, both Mike and I had moved on. Work, studies, and personal life took us away from the stage. But then we both found ourselves in Nebraska. He was in grad school, I had moved for work and a reboot on life. We went on a date to see Henry V at UNL. Then we both performed with a newly formed group called Flatwater Shakespeare Company in As You Like It. We were married a few years later. He proposed back home at the Open Air Theatre in Jersey. And we honeymooned in London, of course.

To our policymakers who feel the arts should be eliminated or defunded, I say, a plague on both your houses. Shakespeare, and his patrons and devotees, are economic drivers. His works have produced laughter, tears, joy, heartbreak, love – not to mention couples, families and children . . . households. As Benedick wisely declares in Much Ado: the world must be peopled. We enthusiastically responded.

Doc was our best man at our wedding, not only because he was the matchmaker, but because we knew that the play was the thing, and that must be honored. It was the thing for so many of us. I now serve on the Flatwater Shakespeare board, and Mike and my son are steady volunteers. We support this because Shakespeare has a way of connecting people, and in this day and age, we can’t imagine a better thing to support.

Kelly Medwick is a member of the Flatwater Shakespeare Company Board of Directors and Vice President of Business Development for Firespring, which provides a range of integrated print, creative, website, and IT services for non-profits, small-to-moderate businesses, and large enterprises. 


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