Q&A with Denice Hicks on Shakespeare in the Park’s move to oneC1TY

Shakespeare in the Park

Clockwise from bottom: Marina (Abigail Nichol), Thaisa (Abby Wyatt), Pericles (Andrew Johnson)

After 30 years of “Shakespeare in the Park” performances at the bandshell in Centennial Park, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival is excited to relocate its Summer Shakespeare productions to oneC1TY, a vibrant mixed-use development.  This year’s plays are THE TEMPEST and PERICLES.

This year’s productions are THE TEMPEST, a magical romantic comedy for all ages directed by Hicks, playing Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Monday at 7pm; and PERICLES, Shakespeare’s fantastical odyssey, an apprentice company show directed by Laramie Hearn playing on Fridays at 7pm and Labor Day Sunday at 10pm. The shows run August 15th – September 22nd in Nashville, and then THE TEMPEST plays an encore weekend at Academy Park Performing Arts Center in Franklin, TN from September 26-29th.

Set designer Andy Bleiler, costume designer Lynda Cameron-Bayer, and props designer Patricia Convertino will create the magical world of the plays. Rollie Mains will be composing an original score for THE TEMPEST, Jodie O’Regan will compose for PERICLES, and Tosha Pendergrast will be dance choreographer for both shows.

The Festival begins at 6pm with food trucks, the pre-show concert series, and free “Talking Shakespeare” guest lectures.  Adult beverages will be available for purchase from Pastaria. At 7pm the two-hour performance begins. Summer Shakespeare is Thursday – Sundays and Labor Day Monday.  There will be a “double-feature” on Labor Day Sunday with THE TEMPEST at 7pm and PERICLES at 10pm.

We spoke with Executive Artistic Director Denice Hicks about the perks of oneC1TY and what audiences can expect from Nashville Shakespeare Festival this summer.

Prospero (Mark Cabus) and Miranda (Delaney Keith)

Q: Why was now the right time to make the move? What has been the reaction so far?

D: The Centennial Park bandshell is no longer useable, and is not included Metro Parks’ current improvement projects. Everyone is very excited about this move to oneC1TY. All of the new amenities like free garage parking and improved rest rooms will make this beloved tradition of Summer Shakespeare feel brand new.

 

Q: What do you think patrons will enjoy about most about the move?

D: The wonderful experience of watching great plays performed by well-trained actors and musicians in a safe, clean outdoor venue. The stress of parking in Centennial Park is gone, and no one will need to stand in line to use a porta-potty.

Q: For someone who loves the arts but isn’t necessarily familiar with Shakespeare’s work, why is Shakespeare in the Park a great introduction?

D: Summer Shakespeare (formerly Shakespeare in the Park) is designed to be for everyone. Our actors are well-trained with plenty of experience speaking Shakespeare’s language, so you should be able to follow the story easily. Watching a Shakespearean play acted out by really good actors is a world away from struggling to read it in a high school English class. And it’s fine if you don’t understand every word—at the end of the play, chances are good that you will have enjoyed the show and be able to say you had a really good time sitting outside enjoying the stars and the moon on a cool summer night.

Q: What makes Shakespeare in the Park so successful?

D: The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is for everyone! From babies to great-grandparents, everyone in between, and even their dogs are welcome. The Festival has been developed through feedback from our audiences. We are Nashvillians, and we make Shakespeare festive!

Q: Tell us why you chose ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Pericles’ as the two productions this year.

Trinculo (Joy Greenawalt-Lay) and Stephano (Jaye Phelps)

These two romantic comedies compliment each other very well. Both have magic and music, and both are about devoted fathers striving to provide a safe and secure future for their daughters. It will be fun for people to come see The Tempest on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, and then return on a Friday night to see the spirits of Prospero’s Island tell a completely different story. It’s been 20 years since we last produced The Tempest in the summer, and 30 years since our 1989 production of Pericles. It was high time to do both again, as both are wondrous, refreshing and fun!

This is a family-friendly festival, and dogs on a leash are welcome.  While the Festival is always free, a $10 donation is strongly encouraged to help us provide the best outdoor theatre experience in Nashville. This year there will also be reserved “Noble” seating available for $30. Royal Packages, which include VIP parking, comfortable reserved seating, and dinner catered by Pastaria, are $75 and support educational outreach programming. Go to ticketsnashville.com to purchase. More information available at nashvilleshakes.org.