ALLIANCE, Ohio – The April 10 Continued Learning Program (CLP) was presented by Kevin Kern, chair of the Department of Theatre at the University of Mount Union. His lecture, titled “Shakespeare: at a castle, in a prison, in a fourth-grade classroom,” shared his love of Shakespeare and how he has chosen to present it to others.
“I have come to talk to you about Shakespeare,” Kern told the audience. “But that’s not the only thing I can speak about. I can also speak about musicals and my children.”
While Kern is an associate professor of theatre at Mount Union, he is also known among the Alliance community for creating what has become a beloved summer tradition, Shakespeare at the Castle. Going into its fifth year, plans for this summer’s production of “Twelfth Night” have already begun.
Kern was inspired to create the event when he was first being interviewed for the position at Mount Union. When he was given a tour of Alliance and saw the Glamorgan Castle. He knew he wanted to perform Shakespeare there. After a few meetings, he was able to begin planning the first show that was performed in 2014.
“There is something beautiful when the community gets together as a collective to experience [Shakespeare at the Castle],” Kerns explained.
The Castle is not the only place he has taught and performed Shakespeare. In the past, Kern had the opportunity to teach a Shakespeare course at Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama.
“Teaching at the prison was a remarkable experience,” Kern said.
He watched as the inmates, who lacked a creative outlet, studied the plays and found connections between what they were reading and what they had experienced in their own lives.
Kern believes that people are taught from a young age to not understand Shakespeare. He made it his goal to take Shakespeare into a fourth-grade classroom and show them anyone can understand Shakespeare.
“If you forget to tell the students it’s really hard,” Kern said. “They won’t know it’s hard, and they just get it.”
Along with telling the audience about his experience teaching and performing Shakespeare, Kern gave a brief history about William Shakespeare. He was born April 23, 1564 and died on his birthday in 1616. Shakespeare is known as one of the most famous and prolific playwrights in history, and the reason being was his ability to write plays faster than the other playwrights of his time. In total, he wrote 17 comedies, 10 tragedies, 11 histories and 154 sonnets in 24 years with his last play most likely being “The Tempest.”
“This guy could write a bunch of plays,” Kern said. “And he cranked them out more than the others.”
Shakespeare also knew how to appeal to audiences of all economic backgrounds. He would include reference to royalty for the royal audience members, music for the common person and humor for the groundlings, or poorest audience members.
CLP is presented on Tuesdays in February, April and October. The next presentation will take place on April 17 at 10 a.m. in the Newbold Room located in Hoover-Price Campus Center on Mount Union’s campus. It will be presented by Alliance Fire Chief Jason Hunt. He has been a firefighter for more than 18 years and has been a Chief-grade officer since 2007. The topic is undecided.
For more information about CLP, contact Abby Honaker Schroeder, director of the Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org