Local Director Brings Shakespeare To Botanical Garden

Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden will provide the backdrop for a unique and intimate performance of William Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” next week. Kernersville resident Jenni Pirkey will be directing the show.

The one-night-only production by the Shared Radiance Performing Arts Company will start at 6 p.m. on Oct. 1. According to Artistic Director Sherri Raeford, the audience will become “an active part of the action by moving with the actors from scene to scene.”

She told Scope News that her inspiration for such an immersive style of theater came when she saw a similar performance by the New York Classical Theatre at Battery Park.

“The final scene was across the water from the Statue of Liberty and was absolutely magical,” she said. “After that, I decided in 2014 to produce shows in North Carolina that traveled through green spaces and parks.”

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Raeford explained that actors in the troupe thrive on personal engagement with audience members with a style that dates back to Shakespeare’s time, noting that Kernersville’s botanical garden is an ideal setting. In addition to a previous performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” she said that Shared Radiance has performed three other Shakespeare plays at the location.

She applauded the improvements and expansions in the garden, adding: “We were delighted the year they added the stage. We can perform outdoors, but also often use the indoor area for a scene or two. In the case of rain, we do the entire show inside. It is a perfect venue.”

Not only is the staff “extremely supportive,” but Raeford said that the garden’s “intimate setting” is exactly what the actors need to shine.

“In the past, we have limited [capacity] to 50, but we have decided to expand for this show,” she explained. “I have seen an audience of at 400 at Battery Park and actors just get very good with projecting and interacting within and around the crowd.”

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

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