In advance of its 2016 summer production of “The Comedy of Errors,” Delaware Shakespeare Festival will explore universal themes of the immigrant experience during “Our America, Our Shakespeare / Nuestra América, Nuestro Shakespeare,” an eight-week playwriting workshop in collaboration with the Latin American Community Center that will culminate in a public presentation at the Delaware Art Museum. Each spring, Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s Community Cornerstone aims create conversation around key themes found in Shakespeare’s plays. During “Our America, Our Shakespeare,” members of the Latino immigrant community will write scenes and monologues that reflect various aspects of their experiences in America, inspired by key moments from “The Comedy of Errors” and artwork in the “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” exhibit at Delaware Art Museum.
Upon arriving in a foreign land, characters in “The Comedy of Errors” are confused by local customs and unfamiliar systems of politics, criminal justice, commerce, religion and interpersonal relationships. Erlina Ortiz of Philadelphia’s Power Street Theatre Company will lead “Our America” participants as they craft their own responses to the play through fictionalized or autobiographical accounts of their experiences with similar systems in America. (Power Street is a multicultural theatre company dedicated to engaging and empowering culturally diverse communities.) “DSF envisions a Delaware where people from all walks of life celebrate and explore their shared humanity through the lens of Shakespearean works,” said producing artistic director David Stradley. “The company has never before engaged in specific programming for the quickly growing Latino population in Delaware. It felt like it could be worthwhile on several levels to explore the connections between Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’ and the Latino immigrant experience in the United States.” Participants will also receive a guided tour of the “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” exhibit at Delaware Art Museum, where they will identify works of visual art that connect to their written pieces, and use those influences to advance their work. Scenes and monologues will be read by participants during a community event at the museum at 1:30 p.m., May 21.
Participants do not need to have previous writing experience, and material can be written in English or Spanish. DSF welcomes participants from a wide array of educational backgrounds. “We hope the program celebrates the diverse cultures and experiences of the Latino community in Delaware,” Stradley says. “We also hope it will open up our understanding one of Shakespeare’s most enjoyable plays by viewing it through a rarely used lens.”
Workshops begin March 17, but participants can join the program in process. If you are interested in participating, contact Stradley at (302) 415-3373. Spanish speakers can contact Laura Adarve at the Latin American Community Center at (302) 655-7338. More information can be found at www.delshakes.org.