GAFFNEY, S.C. (courtesy limstone.edu) — The curtain will rise on the 2020-2021 season for the Limestone University Department of Theatre with two virtual performances this fall, followed by at least one live stage production in the spring.
It was recently announced that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Limestone’s Department of Theatre will open its new season November 6-7 (changed from October 9-10) by streaming William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and that will be followed by an online performance of “Beehive: The 60’s Musical” running November 15-18.
The University’s actors hope to get back in front of live audiences in early 2021 with four performances of “Silent Sky” scheduled for February 25-28 inside Limestone Theatre. A second live production might also be added in the spring, according to Limestone Theatre officials.
“This season and performance venues are subject to change as current projections on the COVID-19 pandemic are updated,” said Dr. Tim Baxter-Ferguson, Director of Theatre and Musical Theatre. “The faculty and staff of Limestone University Theatre and Limestone University know that safety is the first priority, and we will make any changes as necessary. We appreciate the continued support from the University and the Gaffney community.”
Limestone Assistant Professor of Theatre Bill West-Davis noted that Limestone University Theatre has worked extremely hard to make the 2020-2021 season possible.
“I am very happy and relieved that we’re able to have a season,” West-Davis said. “A lot of larger universities have had to change their season or cancel completely due to having a larger student population. Fortunately for us, our small program size allows us to continue making art and educating our students in a safe environment. We look forward to having three – and possibly four – very distinctive shows for this academic year.”
“Hamlet” will be a filmed performance adapted by Baxter-Ferguson, who will serve as Director. Adapted for the contemporary era, it will stream via showtix4u.com (link is external). Tickets will be available for purchase soon. Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet’s father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet’s mother.
“I had wanted to revisit Hamlet for some time,” said Baxter-Ferguson. “We had performed what is arguably Shakespeare’s greatest play some twelve years ago before we had our new theatre space. During the COVID pandemic shutdown, I had a lot of time to think, like all of us, about the toxicity in our country; the unerring belied that we are right and just and anyone else is wrong. We are no longer a country that seeks consensus through careful debate, but instead seeks affirmation through bullying. The loudest voice wins. And, like all of us, I felt it painful to be online. The hatred and discourse were deafening. So, I thought, there’s something there that can connect to Hamlet’s quest for vengeance. Something to explore through the lens of social media politics, and discourse.
“Because of COVID, we had to figure out a way to do theatre and keep our students as safe as possible,” he continued. “The idea of doing ‘Hamlet’ as an exploration of toxic social media came up. It allows us to provide the production like a film and explore both the contemporary issues we all are facing, along with the issues that Shakespeare was illuminating.”
“Beehive: The 60’s Musical” was created by Larry Gallagher and will be directed by Baxter-Ferguson, with music direction by Professor of Music Dr. David Thompson. It will stream November 15-18 at 7 p.m. each day. The streaming platform and ticket information will be announced soon.
Told from the perspective of six young women who come of age in this enigmatic decade, the production celebrates the powerful female voices of the 1960’s with such timeless hits as “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Be My Baby,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”
“I’m so excited to work on this fabulous show,” Thompson said. “I have always been a fan of the great music of the 1960’s, with its powerful females singing us through this everchanging decade. This fast-paced show will certainly have the audience singing and dancing in their seats.”
“Silent Sky” by Lauren Gunderson will have Ashley West-Davis step into the role of Director. Unless plans change due to the COVID pandemic, the live performances will run at 8 p.m. February 25-27, and at 3 p.m. on February 28. Tickets will be on sale soon at showtix4u.com (link is external)..
The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them.
“I am thrilled to be making my directorial debut at Limestone University,” Ashley West-Davis noted. “‘Silent Sky’ is an exploration of the life of one of science’s first female astronomers, Henrietta Leavitt. In an age where women were not allowed to vote, much less touch a telescope, we follow Ms. Leavitt as she makes groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy that remain important today.”
For more information on Limestone Theatre, visit limestone.edu/theatre.