Celebrate Shakespeare at upcoming play at Minot State

Submitted Photo Jenny Castro, right, Daniel Fagan, left, all have been working hard alongside fellow actors to prepare “Much Ado About Nothing” for the festival.

In 1914, Minot State University held it’s first ever Shakespeare Festival. Now, 104 years later, they will be kicking off another year of celebration on April 19 with the first performance of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at 7:30 p.m. in Aleshire Theater.

Directed by Aili Smith, the play follows the comedic story of four young people and what happens when gossip and rumors are passed around and the drastic effects they can have in the Italian town of Messina.

With both comedy and tragedy taking place in the play, Smith has worked hard to take the play and place it in a contemporary time period. It will be Shakespeare’s poetic dialogue as it has always been but will take a special turn and integrate rocking, upbeat music.

“I enjoy directing and dissecting the play because it makes the audience question what happens when, as a society, we believe gossip, rumors, and misinformation,” Smith said.

The play is for all ages and will run April 19-21 and then will end the festival, running April 26-27. All showings will be at 7:30 p.m.

Along with the play, Minot State is offering other events for the week. On the day Shakespeare was born and died, April 23, MSU professor Eric Furuseth will hold an event to show the film adaptation of “Twelfth Night” and hold a discussion afterwards.

“Furuseth will talk briefly in the beginning about the things you should look for as you watch,” Robert Kibler, another professor of the university, said.

The goal is to give guests a deeper understanding of Shakespeare and his works. It will be shown in the Aleshire Theater of Hartnett Hall at 6:45 on April 23.

Then on April 24 in the Northwest Art Center at 7 p.m., the campus will host another of its Campus and Community Dialogues, and according to Kibler, Shakespeare is right at the center of it.

The discussion will be on what should or should not be a part of higher education in the 21st century. Title “Shakespeare? Basketball? Business? French? What Should We Kick Out of the Ivory Tower and What Keep?,” they will be bringing in Dan Conn and Rob Port to debate two sides of the question with Alexandra Deufel as moderator. With coffee, water, and cookies, everyone is invited to attend.

“This is very much a point of discussion, not just in North Dakota, but nationally about what should constitute higher education today,” said Kibler.

Shakespeare and literature is one of the few disciplines in college that are under debate about whether or not it should exist in colleges and universities in the future. One university has recently gotten rid of its English, art, history, sociology, and humanities degrees, filling the spots with more classes that are related to direct workforce application, according to Kibler. With the change and the debates coming from it and the debates of the last 10 years, the discussion is expected to be a good one between those who may agree with the change and cut of those fields and those who may disagree and see the importance of them.

The discussions are a new event the college has started to bring the community and the college together to discuss heated topics of the day. The goal is to create a space where all can talk about their opinions and hear others’ opinions, but no one talks over each other as a mediator works to give everyone a chance to be heard. It will start with two or three diverse panelists giving statements and opinions on the topic so all understand the different sides. Then the discussion will be opened to anyone to join in.

“The idea is that we need to start discussing things in a civil fashion,” said Kibler. “So we have a moderator and civilities. One person can’t get on and lombast the whole time.”

When asked what the celebration was, Kibler said, “It is a celebration of Shakespeare’s life and really the arts overall right around his birthday.”

All the events are free with a pay what you will donation. All of them, as Kibler made clear, are laid back and there is no expectation of having to sit and stay through it all. If you attend the dialogue, you can leave whenever you would like. You can bring your children and have a laid back, relaxing time to discuss a topic.

The festival is intended to not only celebrate Shakespeare but to invite the community onto the campus for the celebration and for discussions, wanting to bring the community and campus closer as one, where all can enjoy what is offered.