“Bard to Go” abroad

Bard to Go's visited East China Normal University in Shanghai, China. May, 2008.
Bard to Go’s visited East China Normal University in Shanghai, China. May, 2008.

As part of the annual GVSU Shakespeare Festival, Bard to Go is a touring theater performance troupe house in the SoC Theatre Arts program. This group consists of students and faculty performers who present 50-minute collages of scenes from various Shakespeare’s plays. In the fall of 2013, Bard to Go visited eight Michigan schools and performed at events on the Allendale campus.

Bard to Go is a unique and accessible way to experience Shakespeare,” senior Theatre and Creative Writing major and Bard to Go member, Amanda Furstenberg said. “Our shows are written so that high school audiences will easily understand the content.

Most recently, the group was invited to perform at the Festival Internazionale di Valle Christi in Genova, Italy and at the National Theatre of Prague, Czech Republic. This is not the first time the group has gone abroad. Bard to Go has accepted invitations to China, Italy, Canada, and different Caribbean island nations.

“Experiencing different cultures is vital for students, in my opinion,” Dr. Kiara Pipino said. “Sometimes Americans don’t get the chance to go abroad and experience the world. Regardless of the fact that they were performing, I believe the students had the opportunity of broadening their cultural horizons and possibly making new connections and discovering new areas of interest.”

The group departed on Feb. 26 for Genova where they presented two performances to full houses. Then, while many of us were sprawled on a beach for spring break, they continued on to Prague where they offered another 4 performances, before returning to Allendale on March 7. Visiting Professor of Theatre Dr. Kiara Pipino and Professor of Theatre and the Shakespeare Festival’s Founding Director Dr. Roger Ellis accompanied the group on their travels. Pipino has been directing shows in Italy for over ten years and offered extensive experience.

“The tour was immensely successful for our students, and for their audiences,” Ellis said. “I think the artistic focus of the ensemble helped the students stay focused through the entire trip, and enabled the group to enjoy and appreciate a lot of cultural opportunities and differences at the same time.”

Bard to Go has received local and national recognition for their work. They have been featured in the newsletter of the international Shakespeare Theater Association on several occasions. Their focus is to perform for middle and high school student populations that are underserved by theatre. Auditions occur every spring and are open to all students within the university.