Join me as I bike solo across the continental United States, visiting summer Shakespeare festivals from Richmond, VA to Ashland, OR to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Richmond Shakespeare Festival at Agecroft Hall.
As a Bardolator and lifelong cyclist, I wanted to combine my two loves and explore Shakespeare festivals from the east coast to the west coast.
Along the way I hope to learn as much about America as I do about Shakespeare, and what the Bard means in a country so far away from his own, both chronologically and geographically.
Each company I visit will be written up on my blog, highlighting their unique personality and how their approach to Shakespeare compares with other companies across the country. I hope to bring all the companies I visit — large and small — into a national dialogue about Shakespeare theatre in America.
My first exposure to Shakespeare came from watching Star Trek. My father was an avid Trekkie so I absorbed a lot of Shakespeare through osmosis as I watched Picard and Kirk explore the galaxy in the starship Enterprise.
I fell in love with Shakespeare ten years ago and started volunteering with Quill — then Richmond Shakespeare — building sets, selling concessions, and eventually writing dramaturgical essays and teaching drama camps.
Over the last ten years I’ve taught in public and private schools as well as in a juvenile detention center. I’ve written educational TV spots for PBS and started a Shakespeare literary magazine. I’ve traveled across the US, to Canada and the UK to see Shakespeare productions. I’ve worked as a dramaturge on productions for Quill, and in 2016 I directed a short film of Measure for Measure.
But this year I will embark on my greatest Shakespeare project, combining my love of cycling and my love of Shakespeare as I make my way across the country, acting as an ambassador for American Shakespeare, visiting large and small festivals across America, learning about Shakespeare in the New World.
Traveling by bicycle is certainly much slower than driving, but for me that’s the point. In a world where everything seems to be moving faster, taking the slow way across the country allows me to see and explore the country and each location in depth.
Rather than rushing from one destination to the next like Pericles and missing all the stuff in between, I hope to say of America: “I like this place, and willingly could waste my time in it.”
As a bonus, traveling by bicycle is green and sustainable! By pedaling across the country I hope to show people how easy it is to explore without burning fossil fuels. Not everyone will bike across the country, but if I inspire one person to start commuting to work by bicycle instead of in their car, I’ve done the world a great service.
In the end I hope to write a book about my experiences, documenting what I learn about America and Shakespeare by spending the summer pedaling my way to Ashland to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
I will set out from Richmond, VA on June 2nd. I will head west, using the Trans America Trail as my base route, making slight detours as needed to visit festivals. From San Francisco I will head north, mostly using the Sierra Cascades route up to Ashland. While there are many more wonderful companies that I wish I could visit, for the sake of time and safety, I've had to limit my visits to companies within 50 miles of my route.
Staunton, VA — American Shakespeare Center
Louisville, KY — Kentucky Shakespeare
St. Louis, MO — Shakespeare Festival St. Louis + St. Louis Shakespeare
Joplin, MO — Missouri Shakespeare Festival
Wichita, KS — Wichita Shakespeare Company
Colorado Springs, CO — Theatreworks
Cedar City, UT — Utah Shakespeare
Lake Tahoe, NV — Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival
San Francisco (area), CA — California Shakespeare Theater + San Francisco Shakespeare + African-American Shakespeare Company + Marin Shakespeare Company + Cutting Ball Theatre
Ashland, OR — Oregon Shakespeare
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