Kevin P. Kern Directs Two Shakespeare Productions
June 17, 2014
ALLIANCE, Ohio – As if directing two different plays simultaneously wasn’t difficult enough, University of Mount Union professor Kevin P. Kern faces another obstacle this summer. He is directing two different plays, by two different companies, in two entirely different locations. Within a month of each other, Kern will direct two Shakespeare productions; one in Ohio, one in California.
In addition to “Shakespeare at the Castle” in Alliance, where Kern will direct “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” he will be directing a production of “Twelfth Night” at the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival at California Lutheran University, his alma mater.
Kern returns to California Lutheran University again this year to direct “Twelfth Night” at the 18th Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival. The play depicts a world out of kilter with disguises and wacky slapstick moments.
When asked how he managed to take on two productions at once, Kern said that he had a lot of help.
“Since I was still teaching at Mount Union in April, Kingsmen Shakespeare allowed me to be involved in the casting for ‘Twelfth Night’ via Skype, email and YouTube,” said Kern. “When I arrived in Los Angeles to begin rehearsals, a bunch of folks helped coordinate things back home. Professor Rodney Dick is handling the artwork, the Office of Marketing is taking care of publicity, Anne Graffice from the Office of Advancement is coordinating ticket sales, costume designer Priscilla Roggenkamp is busy calling actors in for fittings and my wife, Natalie, is working with some of the newer actors to bring them up to speed in preparation for the first rehearsal. If I didn’t have all these people on the team, this wouldn’t work out.”
Directing two productions in one summer, it is apparent that Kern enjoys Shakespeare. The complexity of the stories is a large part of the draw.
“Shakespeare productions have multiple story lines; it’s like working a jigsaw puzzle to fit all the pieces together to make a picture at the end,” said Kern. “Any given play has elements of comedy and drama that need to be handled with equal weight. Then there are great lines that are spoken by the 450-year-old characters that still have resonance today.”
One of these lines particularly resonates with Kern, especially as it pertains to his summer work.
“Near the end of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ Duke Theseus reminds us that ‘Nothing can be amiss when simpleness and duty tender it,’” said Kern. “That’s really great advice for anyone, especially to me this summer: Keep it simple, but work hard, and it will turn out fine.”
Kern received a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from Brandeis University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama from California Lutheran University. In addition to teaching acting and theatre, Kern is the director for the University’s plays and is the artistic director for “Shakespeare at the Castle,” the professional Theatre company in residence at the University of Mount Union.