Shakespeare in the Park presents ‘Complete Works’ in October

COOKEVILLE – The ultimate sampling of Shakespeare – 37 plays in just 97 minutes – is being served at Dogwood Park.

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” (revised) opens Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. during the 17th annual Shakespeare in the Park. The show offers a “high-energy, entertaining romp” through Shakespeare’s entire body of work, director Steve Gwilt said.

“The humorous take on Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies, lesser plays and sonnets provides a jolly excursion through the works for fans and haters,” Gwilt said. “Obviously, the variety of works is not completed each in entirety, and some are but mentioned; however, all are treated with a certain underhanded reverence, affection and appreciation for the bard.”

The show continues nightly through Oct. 10. Admission is free.

A cast of three actors – Emily Remmert, Sam Raper and Matt Wilson – will play all the parts.

“We originally scheduled one of Shakespeare’s earliest and bloodiest plays, ‘Titus Andronicus,’ for performance this season; however, that endeavor would have involved a larger cast and crew,” Gwilt said. “Under the current circumstances, we deemed that bringing together many people would not be a responsible undertaking. With only three actors, we concluded we could safely manage rehearsals and performances.”

Chad McDonald, Cookeville Leisure Services cultural arts superintendent, said, “In this time of having to socially distance ourselves from each other, we hope to provide an avenue for citizens to enjoy live theatre in an outdoor environment.”

All of the performers are Shakespeare in the Park veterans; two of the three even directed last season’s productions of “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Cymbeline.”

“With such experience, tackling a project like ‘Complete Works’ proves an exciting challenge,” Gwilt said. “The actors are inventive and creative and comprise a compatible team.”

The change of season adds to the Shakespeare in the Park experience.

“Dogwood Park in the fall evenings as the sun lowers over the performance pavilion sets an inviting tone for an outdoor theatrical encounter,” Gwilt said. “Playgoers enjoy the transition from the oppressive, sticky nature of summer to the pleasant affording of autumnal climate.”

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” (revised) was written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield and produced by Cookeville Leisure Services through a special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc., NYC.

Patrons may bring lawn chairs and blankets or relax in the permanent tiered seating area. Concessions are available. Social distancing will be observed. For more information, call 528-1313.

Gwilt said Dogwood Park, located at 30 E. Broad St., is a comfortable arena for a diverse slice of the community to experience the “most celebrated author in history.”

What does he hope people will take away from this play?

“Shakespeare is accessible to all persons,” he said. “The Folio does not reside in an academic, stuffy, scholarly atmosphere, affording only passionate literary types a tangible Shakespeare experience. This play is meant to be fun and understandable to all.”

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