It sounds like the storyline from a Mickey Rooney flick. A bunch of youngsters get together. They decide to turn a small town on its ear by throwing a play in a barn and end up performing under the bright lights of New York City. Except this time the story is in color...and it's true.
Beginning this weekend, the Endstation Theatre Company converts a old dairy barn at Sweet Briar College into the stage for "Hamlet." Artistic director and co-founder for the Amherst, Virginia based troop, Geoffrey Kershner, told The Washington Post, "It's about the space. I'm interested in found space and developing a show in and around it."
This is the third such production on the campus where Kershner was raised as a theater professor's son. He knows every nook and cranny, and incorporates the best of them into his plays. A building with balconies lent authenticity to a legendary scene from "Romeo and Juliet." Fireflies brought a dash of natural magic to "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
With "Hamlet," Kershner is using the barn in a similar way. Polonius will die with a smear of blood on the barn window, and the play is set in Civil War era Virginia. The Danish prince may seem a little less Danish, going off to Richmond rather than France, but Kershner feels that Shakespeare's classic has a universal message. "[It] echoes so much war imagery," Kershner says. "I was really intrigued by that."
You can see the result's first hand beginning this Saturday night. "Hamlet" launches with a Light Up the Barn event, complete with a barbecue dinner and live music. Tickets are a bargain at $10.
As if that weren't "Mickey Rooney" enough, Endstation's resident playwright, Joshua Miikel, is actually headed to New York City. He has been invited to debut his newest play, Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island,at the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival - the largest multi-arts festival in North America.
I'm telling you, watch these youngsters from Amherst. They really are turning the town on its ear.