Quiddities: The Tennessee Stage Company

Robert Stockdale Entertainment, Knoxville Quiddities, Local Living Leave a Comment

A scene from the Tennessee Stage Company’s production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in which a band of tinkers discuss a play that they intend to present at the wedding of Theaseus and Hippolyta.

Before this summer, I had never attended a production of the Tennessee Stage Company (TSC). This past summer, I attended their presentations of Hamlet and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I am glad I attended. And, if you do, you will be too — next summer.

But, you don’t have to wait until next summer to experience the goodness that is TSC. Beginning in November, they will be presenting I Hate Hamlet Thursday through Friday nights and Sunday afternoon at the Children’s Theatre of Knoxville. The production dates are from November 27 through December 15, 2009.

Scene from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

And, now is the time to make plans to attend TSC’s production of I Hate Hamlet. You can purchase tickets by calling TSC at 865-546-4280. The price of admission is $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students.

The summer Shakespeare series began in 1981 and has been presented on Knoxville’s Market Square Mall for the last 9 summers. The stage at the north end of Market Square Mall is where the Shakespeare on the Square series is presented. The stage and audience are surrounded by restaurants and shops and people passing by.

Scene from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

The plays of William Shakespeare, as presented, are minimalist in scale. There is little in the way of proper scenery and costuming, and the scripts are abbreviated to keep the story line coherent and tight, avoiding subplots that might otherwise distract the audience in the timeframe available.

Unless you are an English scholar, you won’t notice the edited plots as the plays and acting are both good enough that the audience forgets they are in the middle of a busy city mall. The actors, who obviously enjoy their roles, are seemingly unmindful of the city around them. In keeping with the summer atmosphere, the acting is light enough to keep the characters fresh and not overly pompous. On the whole, It makes for an enjoyable evening.

Number from an opening skit presented before the start of “Hamlet.”

The plays are presented free of charge, though the TSC gladly accepts any donation you may want to provide. Parking is close by, and free. Market Square merchants are happy to provide food, drink and service so that you can make an evening of it. And, you can bring the whole family, including the dog, if you want. All-in-all, an opportunity to escape the humdrum as a family and is highly recommended.

Scene from “Hamlet.” Hamlet (center) is talking to Gildenstern (right) and Rosencrantz (left).

TSC is a non-profit organization and depends upon the generous donations of the public, admissions fees to other presentations, and a small amount of public grant monies to support its programs. In addition to the Shakespeare on the Square series, TSC programs include the Timeless Works Series, the New Play Festival, and an educational and outreach program. During the coming spring, TSC also plans to introduce a new program, the Tennessee Williams Festival.

Their next production, “I Hate Hamlet,” is this coming November, is a part of its Timeless Works series. This spring, TSC plans to present the world premiere production of Jay Hulings “The Church of Diminishing Returns.” The production is a part of its New Play Festival program.

Scene from “Hamlet.” Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle (right) and Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother (right).

For more information about the plays and programs, you can go to the Tennessee Stage Company’s web site, located here.

For additional pictures from TSC’s Shakespeare productions, go here, or to view my web site and blog, go here.

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