We’re almost a month away from William Shakespeare’s birth and death day, April 23rd, and that means we’re coming up upon Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ fourth annual Week of Will. Yvonne Hudson, a board member of PSIP and the creative talent behind Pittsburgh’s Mrs. Shakespeare, Will’s First & Last Love, gave us the full scoop on the history of Week of Will and what you can expect to find at this year’s event.
Week of Will is a continuation of a tradition in Pittsburgh where teachers brought students to the Shakespeare statue in Oakland every year on his birthday to bring flowers. In the 1980s, Pitt’s Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival contributed to the tradition by sending a costumed actor to play Shakespeare. For a time, the event began to fade in popularity, but that changed in 2005 when Hudson met Jennifer Tober and they created a birthday event called The Bard Walk. That same year, Tober founded Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks, and they continued the yearly summer ritual of performing Shakespeare’s works outdoors that had been started in Pittsburgh by the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival.
Hudson explains, “I conceived and now produce Week of Will to celebrate Will and keep our company visible during our off-season. This fourth Week of Will is the fullest with two solo shows, a film, Public Theater’s Hamlet, and much more. It’s Pittsburgh, so cake is a must!” No further explanation needed, Yvonne. You had me at cake.
As the Week of Will has grown in attendance and collaboration, it has turned into much more than just seven days. This year’s event spans March 26th through April 30th, which includes two “warm up” events centered around a character that knew Shakespeare. This showcase of talent and art includes performances by PSIP members as well as many other local organizations, including their partner company Britsburgh.
Here’s the 2018 Week of Will schedule, which you’ll be able to check on PSIP’s social media. Several online events are being organized as well, and those will be announced soon.
Monday, March 26
Jeffrey Chips‘ One-Man DREAM
Threadbare Cider House and Meadery Tasting Room
7:00pm doors open, 7:30pm performance
Tuesday, April 3
Aria 412 presents Shakespeare’s Frolics
Wallace Tap Room, Hotel Indigo, East Liberty
PSIP’s Mrs. Shakespeare is hostess for this monthly first Tuesday themed concert of opera, musical theater, and American songbook favorites by the city’s new showcase of top singers– Aria412! Free admission, cash bar and food available.
Thursday, April 19
Mrs. Shakespeare, Will’s First & Last Love
Sewickley Heights Historical Center
7:00pm-8:00pm, including a short talk back after a 50 minute performance
Performance by Yvonne Hudson of her long-running solo show. Free admission, refreshments served, donations accepted.
Saturday, April 21
New Renaissance Theatre Company Performance
The Leaning Cask Brewing Company, Springdale
PSIP cheers on Britsburgh and fellow arts partner New Renaissance Theatre Company. Beer tastings and a spring Shakesbeer will be introduced. Free admission.
Sunday, April 22
Shakespeare Statue Salute
Outside of Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland
Mrs. Shakespeare (Yvonne Hudson) leads the city’s annual tribute to Will with story, sonnets, and flowers. Free to the public.
Shakespeare’s Saucy Minions
Schenley Plaza Tent
A pastiche of favorites from Will’s words by PSIP artists and Shakespeare colleagues. Birthday cake served at the end of performances.
Monday, April 23
Facebook live events with PSIP players, Mrs. Shakespeare, and more on the Bard’s 454th birthday. Details and times TBA.
Tuesday, April 24
Pittsburgh Public Theater
A collaborative event with Britsburgh. Food and fun for Will’s most personal drama. Tickets to be on sale via Britsburgh.
Wednesday, April 25
Meet our players and board members at an informal annual gathering. Benefits PSIP.
Sunday, April 29
Southside Works Cinema
11:00am (2.25 hour show)
The Bridge Theater’s groundbreaking production recorded live at the National Theater. Food and conversation after the 2.5 hour broadcast at Claddagh Irish Pub, nearby at Southside Works. A collaboration with Britsburgh. Book tickets online for $20 at:
Monday, April 30
Friended by Shakespeare
Threadbare Cider and Meadery, first floor production space
7:00pm doors open, 7:30pm show begins
Cash bar featuring Threadbare specialties until 9:30 pm. Free parking. Pittsburgh’s Stoney Richards takes over PSIP’s monthly Bring Your Own Bard (BYOB) with his solo show about Will for this fundraiser for September’s Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ticket details March 26 at PittsburghShakespeare.org Admission includes one beverage; light fare and dessert provided with additional patron levels and perks available.