Rutgers-Founded Ignoble Shakespeare Company Opens Curtains on Second Summer Season

By Tom McLaughlin

Looking to enjoy a professional-quality play this summer? Don’t want to travel far or break the bank to do it?

The Ignoble Shakespeare Company has just the ticket for you. Well, actually, you don’t need any tickets at all.

Katrina Hall and Rich Lanci

The theater company, founded by and comprised in part of several Rutgers University–Camden students and alumni, will begin its second season of free theatrical productions in South Jersey with William Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” at the Matrimony Garden at Newton Lake Park in Collingswood.

The free, public performances, sponsored by the Camden County Department of Parks and Recreation, are 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21, to Sunday, June 24.

“All you need to bring is a blanket, chair, or a picnic,” says Joey Ciurlino, a 2017 English and theater graduate with a minor in digital studies and an admissions associate in the Welcome Center at Rutgers–Camden. “We love theater and we love our community, and wanted to help bring these two together.”

Co-directed by Alex Scheinberg, a 2017 theater graduate of Rutgers–Camden, and John Patouhas, a current English major, the play centers around Viola, who is shipwrecked. After washing up on the coast of a new land, her fortunes lost and her brother believed to be dead, Viola disguises herself as a man and finds employment as a messenger for the lovesick Duke Orsino. When the Duke sends Viola to court the elusive Olivia for himself, plans go awry as Olivia falls for the disguised Viola instead.

Kelsey Brown

“Twelfth Night” marks the second season for the Ignoble Shakespeare Company, after presenting “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last June at Norcross-Dell and subsequently “As You Like It” at Knight Park in Collingswood in late August.

The fledgling theater company was initially the brainchild of Scheinberg, who conceived the idea as an opportunity to work more collaboratively with Rutgers–Camden students seeking to create inclusive and accessible theater free of charge for the South Jersey community.

He adds that, on a practical level, the Rutgers–Camden theater program has prepared them to stage these productions by instilling in them an invaluable, holistic approach towards making theater. He and classmates, he recalls, were routinely able to work on productions in a variety of roles; those not performing on stage had the opportunity to work backstage in stage management, or costume or set construction – sometimes all of the above.

“All of this prepared us to know not just how to put a scene on a stage, but also to understand the practical dimensions of organizing, setting up, coordinating, and managing a theater production,” says Scheinberg, a Collingswood resident and graduate of Collingswood High School.

Moreover, says the Rutgers–Camden alumnus, these productions are emblematic of the ensemble-based, collaborative approach to theater learned under tutelage of Paul Bernstein, an associate professor of theater, who directed many plays in which they participated on campus.

Gregory Furman

“He always pushed the idea of theater being created collectively by everyone involved,” says Scheinberg. “He promoted dialogue and improvisation between the cast, crew, and audience as a way to understand a play as it relates to larger, real-world contexts, beyond just being a self-contained work of art.”

Ciurlino echoed the sentiment, noting that, although Scheinberg and Patouhas are directing “Twelfth Night” in a technical sense, they have been open to suggestions throughout the creative process.

“The creative work of the show – how we tell the story and convey these characters – is entirely collaborative,” says Ciurlino, a Cherry Hill resident and graduate of Cherry High East High School. “Everyone is involved in the process, and that is very much what we learned as students at Rutgers–Camden.”

For more information, contact the theater company at ignobleshakespeare@nullgmail.com.

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