Bard to Go expands students' Shakespeare experience

The 2014 Bard To Go ensemble in Prague, from left: Ryan Farrell, Matthew Darnell, Sammie Chaness, Jessica Utter, Andrew Steward, Amanda Furstenberg, Erin Feiner, Director Chiara Pipino, Theatre alumnus Jason James.
The 2014 Bard To Go ensemble in Prague, from left: Ryan Farrell, Matthew Darnell, Sammie Chaness, Jessica Utter, Andrew Steward, Amanda Furstenberg, Erin Feiner, Director Chiara Pipino, Theatre alumnus Jason James.
Posted on

Grand Valley’s Shakespeare Festival touring company, Bard To Go, has been touring regionally and internationally each year since 1998. This year, over semester break, BTG students were invited to present six performances at the Festival Valle Christi in Rapallo, Italy, and in the Czech Republic at the Prague Shakespeare Festival.

Each fall the ensemble also visits 8 high schools throughout Michigan, performing a 45-minute collage of Shakespearean scenes organized around a different theme, such as magic, love, or revenge. Every other year, BTG accepts invitations from international groups. Over the years, the company has performed in China, Canada, Italy, the Bahamas and other locations. The recent international trip to Rapallo and Prague was organized by this year’s BTG director, visiting professor Chiara Pipino, and Roger Ellis, founding director of Grand Valley’s Shakespeare Festival.

BTG students are chosen every year by audition from Grand Valley’s entire student population. This year’s troupe consisted of students majoring in writing, business, anthropology, and public relations, as well as theatre. All the housing and local transportation in Europe was provided by the hosting groups, and scholarship funding covered much of the group’s travel expenses. The tour also provided ample time for visiting historic venues and museums.   

“It was a challenging and amazing experience to take our show abroad,” said student Amanda Furstenberg. “I loved the opportunity to share my passion for theatre with the international audiences.”