KUAC teams with FST for Shakespeare outreach

by Chris Hoch

The Sun Star

Feb. 2, 2015

“Shakespeare Uncovered” season 2 episode 1 was screened in the Davis Concert Hall at 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 31, alongside a short display of the upcoming “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” production by the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre.

Actors from Fairbanks Shakespeare theatre read aloud scenes from "A Mid Summer's Night Dream" which has been translated into the Athabascan language of Gwich'in. Chris Hoch/The Sun Star

Actors from Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre read aloud scenes from “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream” which has been translated into the Athabascan language of Gwich’in. Chris Hoch/The Sun Star

The FST is partnering with KUAC FM to produce educational materials regarding Shakespeare, including portions of the 24-hour reading of Shakespeare, Bard-a-thon, and commentary on The Metropolitan Opera’s “Macbeath” among other. KUAC TV, meanwhile, will be airing “Shakespeare Uncovered”, produced by New York Public Media, telling the story of Shakespeare’s plays including its history, controversies, influences, and all other aspects of plays that people wouldn’t learn from a viewing of the play itself, Thursdays at 5 p.m.

In order to partner for the production, New York Public Media’s WNET executives independently read incoming proposals and selected their top 10 to present to the rest of the team. “The number one highest rated proposal we received was from KUAC” Chris Czaijka, senior director at WNET, said.

Each episode will be hosted by a celebrity, each of whom have some connection to the play that they’re ‘uncovering’, according to Czaijka. Episode 1, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, hosted by English actor Hugh Bonneville, is the same play that the FST is currently producing.

KUAC and Fairbanks Shakespeare collaborated in the Davis Concert Hall on Saturday the former previewing their radio program "Shakespeare Uncovered" and the latter acting out scenes from their latest Shakespeare production. Chris Hoch/The Sun Star

KUAC and Fairbanks Shakespeare collaborated in the Davis Concert Hall on Saturday the former previewing their radio program “Shakespeare Uncovered” and the latter acting out scenes from their latest Shakespeare production. Chris Hoch/The Sun Star

The FST’s production of the play will have a portion translated into the Athabascan language of Gwich’in.

The translating has been difficult at times because many of the lines in Shakespeare’s plays use metaphors, local historical events and plays on words for multiple meanings, according to Allan Hayton, who did the translating and performed “God Save the King” at Saturday’s event.

“This production will include Yupik and Tlingit as well,” Rebecca George, managing director of FST, said.

“We’ll be taking this production around the state to the schools,” George said, as part of an educational tour which will be stopping in Tok, Glenallen, Chickaloon, Healy, and Nenana. There are only 150 native speakers of Gwich’in remaining, classifying it as a severely endangered language according to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The translation of the play will help keep the language from becoming extinct, but also provides speakers of languages the opportunity to speak a language they might not be able to speak elsewhere. “I’m so grateful to have the chance to do that,” Brian Wescott, one of the actors in the production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said.

“The way I approach staging is let the actors go through it themselves,” Tom Robenolt, FST director, said. Robenolt wants the passion that the actors will naturally cultivate for the situation based on the play itself. Robenolt is working with only 10 actors. “Most are all doubled, some are tripled,” he said, referring to actors playing multiple roles within the same play.

The FST exhibits most of its plays at Jack Townshend Point on UAF campus. “We’re currently looking for a year round home,” George said.

“Shakespeare Uncovered”

Sample translation of “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream” from Shakespeare to common English to the Athabascan language of Gwich’in.

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