Rose Theatre Gives Audiences a Taste of Shakespeare’s Lifetime

Rose Theatre Gives Audiences a Taste of Shakespeare’s Lifetime
Photo courtesy of The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company
Photo courtesy of The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company

Very few replicas of Elizabethan playhouses exist in the world.  The most famous is Shakespeare’s Globe in London, a reconstruction of the theatre most often associated with Shakespeare and his plays.  Luckily for Michigan audiences, one of these replica playhouses, The Rose, stands at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake.  For most of the summer months, The Rose houses the middle school and high school students who attend the camp’s sessions, but twice a year, public audiences have the chance to see Shakespeare’s plays in the theatre architecture of his own time period, when the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company takes the stage at the Rose.  Pigeon Creek’s performances in the space benefit WBLV/WBLU Blue Lake Public Radio, a classical music station serving West Michigan.

The Rose was built in 2010 by architect Dick Borgeson, who chose features from several of the theatres of Shakespeare’s time period to create this beautiful space surrounded by forest.  The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company began performing in the space in 2012.  This summer, Pigeon Creek will present two productions: The Comedy of Errors on May 30, and Hamlet on August 29.  Both performances will take place at 2:00 p.m..

Photo courtesy of The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company
Photo courtesy of The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company

Audiences in previous summers have been thrilled with the opportunity to see Shakespeare performed in this space.  One audience member commented that the theatre’s architecture, in which audience surrounds the stage on three sides, “fostered a sense of community rather than individual engagement to the action,” and that in the audience “we feed off each other’s emotions for a shared experience.”  Another commented that the architecture of the space “makes the performance feel more interactive, which I think is perfect for Shakespeare.”

Pigeon Creek’s actors have also relished the opportunity to perform in the Rose space.  Pigeon Creek is a touring company, which typically tours each of its productions to 4-5 venues around Michigan and in surrounding states.  The company’s production style comes from the “Original Practices” movement in the performance of Shakespeare’s plays, in which theatre companies use performance conditions from Shakespeare’s own time period.  This interest in recreating performance conditions original to the plays makes Pigeon Creek a perfect match for The Rose.  Sarah Stark, who has played the first witch in Macbeth and Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet at The Rose, commented that The Rose is “an environment that naturally enhances the visceral relevance of Shakespeare’s plays,” and that “the proximity to audience members stimulates the immediate and potent connection between audience and actor.”  The performances in the Rose create an exciting atmosphere for both actors and audience.

Photo courtesy of The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company
Photo courtesy of The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company

Tickets for this summer’s productions are available exclusively from Blue Lake Public Radio.  Tickets are $20.00 in advance and $25.00 at the door.  Tickets for students and groundlings (audience members who stand in the yard around the stage like true Elizabethan theatre fans!) are $15.00.  Reserve tickets by calling Blue Lake Public Radio at 231-894-5656.  For more information about the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, please visit the company’s website at www.pcshakespeare.com.

Have you had the opportunity to see the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company? Which performance are you planning on seeing this summer? Let us know down below!

Katherine Mayberry, Contributing Writer