This is the fourth year that the Company visits Ball State. The tradition began when Dr. Frank Felsenstein, a professor of both Honors Humanities and the English Department, wanted to give his colloquium students a chance to see Shakespeare performed live.
“As Shakespeare is often deemed our greatest author, it seemed there was a demand for this class,” Felsenstein said.
The colloquium was called Shakespeare for You! In it, students studied sonnets and eight plays by Shakespeare that spanned all genres (comedy, tragedy, and history). Felsenstein said he knew that in order for his students to receive the full effect of Shakespeare’s plays, they needed to see one performed live.
“The nearest company I could find was the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company,” Felsenstein said. He added that because they were a traveling company with a manageable fee, they were a perfect match for the department.
The first play Cincinnati Shakespeare Company performed at Ball State was The Tempest; it was held in the Student Center Ballroom. Felenstein said that while this was not the ideal space for the performance, the event ended up a huge success with the students on campus. After that first year, all other performances by the company have been held in the larger yet still intimate Pruis Hall.
Felsenstein believes the company puts on a high-quality show. “It is a reduced company of five to six actors and actresses who double up and play different characters, which can often have comedic effects,” Felsenstein said. “The cast is made up of very young actors who are exceptionally versatile and talented.”
The show has wide educational appeal throughout the Honors College and the university at large.
“Most faculty teaching Honors 202 include a Shakespeare play,” Felsenstein said. He added that many departments throughout the university, particularly English and Theatre, feature the work of Shakespeare in their curriculum.
Dr. Felsenstein said he is also happy that the show reaches out beyond the university: students from local high school Burris as well as members of the community turn up to watch the show.
He warned, however, that the past several years the show has had a full house. He suggested getting to Pruis early in order to secure a seat for the show, which is sponsored by the Honors College, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Sciences and Humanities and the English Department.