Art Works Blog

Giving Thanks with the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Used courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company.

In looking for the perfect Thanksgiving quote, it was no surprise that I found the answer in Shakespeare. To be precise, in Act III, sc iii of Twelfth Night in which  Sebastian responds to Antonio's act of companionship with, "I can no other answer make but thanks,/And thanks, and ever thanks."

Since the Bard clearly has an answer for everything, it seemed quite fitting to poll the staff and cast of Washington, DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Much Ado About Nothing---which opens the day after Thanksgiving---about the artist for whom they are most grateful. Here's what they had to say:

Colleen Delany ("Ursula," Much Ado About Nothing)

This is my shout-out to the more tenured ladies of the Washington, DC theater scene:  Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Tana Hicken, Naomi Jacobson, Jennifer Mendenhall, Sarah Marshall, Nancy Robinette, Holly Twyford, and numerous others. Their examples of conducting robust careers while balancing life's many other commitments---all the while doing so with outrageous creativity, strength of character, unstinting generosity of spirit, and peerless grace---have ongoingly inspired me to strive for such greatness myself. Forgive my dip into hagiographic waters; I love them all, and they deserve the props. I am grateful.

Laura Henry (Artistic Fellow)

I am thankful for Shakespeare because he converted me. I was once a contented English major, with my sights set on publishing, or something similar. Then I read Othello, and Winter’s Tale, and Midsummer, and suddenly I was an addict: a new major that baffled my parents. Money disappearing into theater tickets. Shakespeare in Love and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead on repeat. Grad school. Now, an intern at a classical theater company. Go figure. Shakespeare’s language and theatricality transported me from the page to live action; from static works to the unstable art (and artists) of the stage; from reading novels to diving into the chaotic world of professional theater. For better or worse, there’s no going back. I blame (and thank) him.

Hannah Hessel (Audience Enrichment Manager)

I am extremely thankful for puppeteer and choreographer Dan Hurlin. Years ago, Dan taught me a great lesson about the need for simplicity in art. As a teacher and artist, Dan understands that great work comes from the little details and that art can magnify the precious small moments that make up our lives. I will always be thankful for the moments I had working with him in undergrad and look forward to every future opportunity to see his work.

Vanessa Hope (School Programs Manager)

I’m most thankful for Shakespeare because thanks to him I have a job.

Drew Lichtenberg (Literary Associate)

Alfred Hitchcock. In 300 years, people may think of Hitchcock the way we think of Shakespeare now, as the virtuoso of a young entertainment form during the age in which it transformed into art. I have watched and rewatched (and rewatched) his films and the world they create only gets deeper each time. P.S.: VERTIGO.

Jacob Perkins (Ensemble, Much Ado About Nothing)

I would say Frances Conroy because of her emotional depth, fearlessness, and brutal honesty in her work. I strive for those qualities.

Ashley Smith ("Conrade," Much Ado About Nothing)

The artist I'm most thankful for is Paula Smith, a professional watercolor painter who also happens to be my mother.

Elayna Speight (Graphics Design Intern)

I would have to say the creators of the Adobe Creative Suite. Without them, doing my job would be a lot harder. And with CS I can create digital art.

Deborah Vandergrift (Director of Production)

One of the many artists for whom I am thankful is Georgia O’Keeffe. Her paintings warm my heart, often make me smile, and make me proud to be a woman. She did not set out to be an iconoclast; she simply painted from her heart. Her unfettered expressions changed our collective understanding of art and of women artists.

Chris Young (Lead Props Artisan)

I am thankful for Tage Frid. I found out about him during my first college-level, crafts department woodworking class. His books Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking were our text books. The head of the woodworking/cabinetry classes was one of his students. He wanted to know what an object was going to be used for. While that may seem to be an obvious answer when you build home furniture, it’s a crucial question to ask when you build theater furniture. Theater furniture never has an obvious use. So following his example, and always building the object as soundly as I can, has allowed the directors and actors a measure of confidence and safety in the objects we put on stage My favorite quote of his: "One thing I can't stand is when people who went through the same learning as I did won't pass it on…" I’ve tried to keep that in mind as people move through this organization.

Add new comment