UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Actors from the nationally renowned American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will be joined on the Penn State Eisenhower Auditorium stage this weekend by a special canine guest on loan from PAWS, a local animal rescue shelter, for a performance of William Shakespeare’s "Two Gentlemen of Verona."
The production, which will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, is free and open to the public. Tickets can be obtained in advance by calling the Eisenhower Auditorium ticket office at 814-863-0255.
When long-distance love tangles the heartstrings of the comedy’s title characters, it takes two clever women, a pair of devoted servants, and a dog to make things right. Jealous lovers, a cross-dressing heroine, and a daring escape into the forest make "Two Gentlemen of Verona" a simultaneous classic and edgy trip.
According to Jemma Alix Levy, ASC guest director, the real love story exists between the two friends, Valentine and Proteus. “Nowadays, we expect this kind of intense friendship primarily in little girls. In Shakespeare's day, however, relationships like this were prevalent in grown men. I think that is where our confusion with this play lies — Valentine and Proteus are best friends, but not in a buddy-movie kind of way. They love each other — more than they can or will love anyone else, ever — but they are not gay. Julia and Sylvia are the objects of their sexual attraction; but, when it comes down to a choice, the protocol of Elizabethan friendship insists that Proteus and Valentine should always choose each other.”
ASC has been touring the country since 1988 performing shows that incorporate Shakespeare’s staging conditions. The troupe, based in Staunton, Virginia, seeks to recover the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theater, language and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. ASC’s Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, is open for productions of classic Shakespeare plays year-round.
The Oct. performance of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" is sponsored by the Penn State Department of English.