For four centuries, they have moved and mystified readers. The second annual Shakespeare Festival in Concord, “Much Ado About Shakespeare – A Festive Conference” -- will focus on Shakespeare’s sonnets, with public readings and other events marking the 400th anniversary of their publication in 1609.
For four centuries, they have moved and mystified readers.The second annual Shakespeare Festival in Concord, “Much Ado About Shakespeare – A Festive Conference” -- will focus on Shakespeare’s sonnets, with public readings and other events marking the 400th anniversary of their publication in 1609. “We invite anybody who has been moved by Shakespeare’s sonnets to offer them up as a tribute,” said Stuart-Sinclair Weeks of Concord, one of the festival’s organizers, and an organizer of cultural events in town. The keynote guest at this year’s festival is actor and writer Hank Whittemore, author of “The Monument,” a book about the story the sonnets tell – a subject that remains a source of mystery and debate. Whittemore will present a one-man play, “Shake-speare’s Treason,” which he wrote with director Ted Story. In this play, the sonnets provide the backdrop of a dark tale of murder, mistaken identity and all manner of treachery, tragedy and intrigues. Other festival highlights include interpretive music and dance, and a presentation on some of Shakespeare’s greatest female characters. Although strong and memorable, many of them die in or before the final act, and scholars want to understand why. Weeks said he expects the festivities to draw about 300 participants, with some events geared toward families to foster love of Shakespeare from an early age. The festival is a cooperative effort of businesses, cultural institutions and volunteers in town, among them members of the Shakespeare Readers Group that meets to read aloud and explore various Shakespearean plays. The festival works with a budget of about $2,800, along with in-kind donations and services. Like many cultural events, it has felt the weight of the economy, with challenges in raising funds. Weeks said, “The goal is to ask what Shakespeare has to offer our time. He was writing in the mercantile age, and trying to remind the audience of considerations greater than what we could call the bottom line.” With the economy striking a discordant note in the present day, Weeks said, “That is why it is all the important to do it. We need a festival like this to honor Shakespeare, and lift our spirits…and remember that there is more than just the bottom line.” If you go “Much Ado About Shakespeare – A Festive Conference” When: Friday, July 31 – Sunday, Aug. 2. Where: Events at Concord Free Public Library, 129 Main St., Concord, and Masonic Hall, 58 Monument Square, Concord. Cost: All events free. For more information, including a complete schedule of events: Visit www.concordshakespeare.org.
Margaret Smith is Arts and Calendar editor at GateHouse Media New England’s Northwest Unit. E-mail her at email@example.com.