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Revelry in Arizona | An Actor’s Perspective on the New Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival

By July 25, 2015 No Comments

Editor’s Note: this post from Isak Bond provides a first-person account of the new Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival.

It’s winter in Phoenix in 2013, and I’m standing outside the Crescent Ballroom with Stefano Coaloa talking about doing some backyard Shakespeare. “I was thinking Twelfth Night would be fun,” he says. “You’d make a great Orsino,” I say. I thought at the time it was just a thought. I thought at the time it was just a pleasant idea, something to tickle the imagination. Within the month, Stefano was introducing me to Dawn Tucker, and Dawn was making things happen. She got a rehearsal space, she requisitioned costumes, she made plans for casting faculty members of our charter school system – and she asked Jesse James Kamps of the Southwest Shakespeare Company to direct. He accepted. We rehearsed. We performed. We were given so much exuberance and delight it really wouldn’t be fair for anyone to get to have such an experience again.

flagstaff shakespeare festival | the shakespeare standard

But here I am in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona, and somehow, somewhy, we’re performing Twelfth Night again. Dawn Tucker and Jesse James Kamps have brought together a motley crew of performers – previous cast members, veteran actors from both Phoenix and Flagstaff, and even a performer fresh from a stint in the Globe – and ladies and gentlemen, we are here to do some Shakespeare. We’re entering our second weekend of the brand new Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival, and we are here to entertain you all. Dawn and Jesse, our executive and artistic directors, have obtained us performing space in the Coconino Center for the Arts, as well as Sunday afternoon in the lovely Heritage Square. It’s Shakespeare by the seat of your pants, and our first weekend of shows has been an uproarious good time. Every member of the cast is here because we love to perform, we love to tell stories, and we love to speak the language our dear Bard has left for us. It is truly a humbling endeavor – not because we have struggled, but because we have come to full realization that putting on a play is a communal effort.

Twelfth Night is perhaps Shakespeare’s most celebratory comedy. It is overflowing with song, dance, revelry and romance, and it evokes sighs of contentment almost as often as roars of laughter. But it is also a play with a twinge of sadness. Not every Jack gets his Jill, and the songs of the Fool tell us that although we weather the storms with merriment and festivity, we also must know that the rain falls daily. When we perform or attend Twelfth Night, we are made better by considerations of time, deception, and imperfect human love. We in the cast play our parts because we believe that Shakespeare has put for us into words more beautiful and apt than our everyday speech the things we all wish we could say in our ordinary lives. Ladies and gentlemen, the Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival stands for truth, beauty and entertainment, and our sole reason for being here is to delight you. I, for one, cannot wait for next year’s season – Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. So come see the show, and give us your precious presence this weekend. We will give you ours.

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~ Isak Bond

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