Delaware Today magazine Arts & Entertainment Feature: Community theater, The Arden Shakespeare Gild

That Which We Call the Arden

The Arden Shakespeare Gild continues a 100-year tradition of honoring Shakespeare in appropriately bucolic Arden. Part of the Arden Club, the gild welcomes all Bard lovers as audience members and participants. Troupes produce one play each summer.

David Hastings got into the group—and community theater itself—by accident. A union electrician with no theater experience whatsoever, Hastings showed up at an audition one day just to watch. Acting was a mystery to him and he feared public speaking.

The director, short-handed and stressed as directors often are, asked Hastings to help out by reading opposite other actors. Hastings got the gig.

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“I found out that it’s nothing like public speaking” he says. “You get to be somebody else—and the words are written for you.”

The experience was liberating and addictive. “I realized I was meeting people and having experiences I’d never have in the construction business,” says Hastings. “On the last day of that first show, I felt like it was my last day at summer camp.”

Hastings did more shows with Arden than with Chapel Street Players in Newark. “I do whatever they throw my way,” he says. He gets big parts now, like Salieri, the tormented antagonist in “Amadaeus.” That, he says, was the role of a lifetime.

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