How can a pay-what-you-will theatre company like Hoosier Shakes engage in economic development? Great question. Certainly not by investing in buildings or property.
Hoosier Shakes does, however, intentionally find ways to help bolster economic development by drawing attention to some wonderful outdoor and other beautiful spaces. Hoosier Shakes devotes at least one week each summer to providing performances in the downtown Marion area. First, we stormed the 3rd Street Courtyard and later the Grant County Family YMCA. We sought to bring life to a seemingly abandoned part of our city where the shops and businesses closed up shop and “rolled up the sidewalks” around dinnertime. That was then; now times are a-changin’. Downtown Marion is undergoing a bit of a renaissance and Hoosier Shakes looks forward to playing our part(s). As long as Hoosier Shakes is around, we’ll devote part of our season to reinvigorating downtown spaces in the Marion area.
Hoosier Shakes also intentionally partners with local businesses and organizations to draw attention to Grant and Wabash Counties. By partnering with the Grant County Visitors Bureau, we’ve connected with restaurants such as Payne’s in Gas City, The Bridge in Upland, The Branch and Grains and Grill in Fairmount, Chapman’s Taproom in Wabash, and Folkies’ Tavern and The Abbey in Marion, among others, to encourage our patrons to eat and shop locally.
Hoosier Shakes also partners with College Inn Bed & Breakfast (Marion) and Haisely’s Hide-A-Way (Fairmount) to provide opportunities for lodging for our out-of-town guests.
Mississinewa 1812 provided free tickets for Hoosier Shakes to give away during performances to call attention to the annual reenactment of a local War of 1812 battle in Grant County. Our desire was to call attention to their good work and encourage our patrons to become their patrons as well.
Hoosier Shakes sponsors “meet and greets” where locals could meet and greet the cast during our season. We are always grateful to The Abbey Coffee Company and Folkies Tavern for their generous hospitality.
And we are always open to more ideas for partnering with local businesses and organizations. If you are a local business or work for one, let us know how Hoosier Shakes might partner with you.
I spent a significant portion of my life teaching undergraduate college students the discipline and practice of theatre in some relatively remote areas, remote with respect to New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
I struggled with training young artists and practitioners whose hopes and dreams of making it in the business of show was extremely different if not impossible.
So, one of Hoosier Shakes’ pillars is to offer students on-the-job training with professional actors. The net result allows students to rise to the occasion and “hold their own” up against more seasoned actors and directors. A wonderful side benefit to this on-the-job training if the relationships and networks students are able to develop with professionals from across the country. A couple of our past professionals have worked on national Broadway tours or on the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars stage.
As I’ve written elsewhere,
“During our 2016 season, senior theatre major Beverly Wagner was cast as part of the company. Beverly struggled as an actor in her university’s theatre program, but one of the two professional directors saw something in her audition that compelled him to cast her as Feste in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. She grew exponentially as a performer over the three and one half weeks of rehearsals. Audiences were drawn to Feste and after each performance were surprised to learn that the actor was a student performer. Beverly grew more in three and one half weeks than she did the previous three years in her undergraduate program. The opportunity Hoosier Shakes provided to work with professional directors and alongside more seasoned actors allowed her to succeed beyond expectations.”
One student actor’s mother shared,
“My “Mom mind” thought, “Wow, his first paid gig in the field of acting. How exciting!” Little did I know that these weeks would be filled with so much more than just a “paid gig.”
“Austin moved to one of 3 homes rented for 12 actors who converged on our little community from across the US.
“These “strangers” became my son’s world for the past 6 weeks. They lived, breathed, loved, learned, ate, slept, sweat, cried, laughed and become as much “one” as twelve people can be.
“To each of these cast and crew members, THANK YOU! You have taken my breath, made me laugh heartily, and cry with raw emotion. These performances were truly remarkable! You are all truly remarkable!”
“It’s one thing to learn one’s craft from a class or textbook; it is something altogether different to learn your craft from a craftsman.”
One of Hoosier Shakes’ goals is “to vitalize the performance of Shakespeare…for the diverse communities of Grant and Wabash Counties, Indiana by presenting inspiring, accessible, literate, experiential theatrical performance.”
We do this by embracing a number of early modern staging practices in our performances, including:
Shakespeare’s theatres, and many others, enjoyed light that illuminated actor, stage, and audience alike, allowing for engagement between the actor and the audience member.
A Surrounded Space
Throughout theatre history, and especially in Shakespeare’s theatres, audiences surrounded a central performance space now known as thrust and arena staging. When the audience surrounds the playing space, they are part of the world of the play, visible to actor and other audience members, participating in the performance.
Early modern theatres didn’t have elaborate sets. In Shakespeare’s theatres, acting companies performed different plays each day, so there wasn’t time for a complete set to be built. Simple sets upend the economics of making theatre, putting the emphasis on actor and text.
Many Shakespeare plays, from Hamlet to Macbeth to the histories, have dozens of characters, but early modern playing companies often had casts between 12 and 15. With a small group of actors and many characters, it was common practice for actors to play more than one role.
With simple sets and doubled actors, costumes are of critical importance to Shakespeare’s theatres. They served as the primary visual draw for a production and helped distinguish between characters. Importantly, Shakespeare’s theatres wore what was for them modern dress. Think the equivalent of a t-shirt and jeans, an evening gown, a tuxedo, or military fatigues for teenagers, ladies-in-waiting, lords, or soldiers, respectively.
Here’s what one patron had to say about our style,
“What I love most about Hoosier Shakes is the incorporation of the modern music before & during the show. It really makes the themes of the show relevant and it’s super fun. I also loved the physicality and the…. It was high energy and really worked. I also liked the doubling of characters and how much sense it made for those characters….”
And we do all this while presenting two plays in repertory. Join us this summer when you can see Othello: The Moor of Venice one night and As You Like It the next, or vice versa.
It’s one thing to learn one’s craft from a class or textbook; it is something altogether different to learn your craft from a craftsman. Hoosier Shakes provides students with an opportunity to hone their craft while onstage under the careful eye of professional actors and directors.
High school, university, and community productions are valuable experiences for an actor with a passion for performance. Every opportunity to perform is an opportunity to grow in the craft of acting. Imagine, though, an intense professional rehearsal and production run of not one, but two plays in repertory alongside a New York or Chicago actor and a professional director trained in the style of Shakespeare’s original staging practices.
Last season, senior theatre major Beverly Wagner was cast as part of the company. Beverly struggled as an actor in her university’s theatre program, but one of the two professional directors saw something in her audition that compelled him to cast her as Feste in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. She grew exponentially as a performer over the three and one half weeks of rehearsals. Audiences were drawn to Feste and after each performance were surprise to learn that the actor was a student performer. Beverly grew more in three and one half weeks than she did the previous three years in her undergraduate program. The opportunity Hoosier Shakes provided to work with professional directors and alongside more seasoned actors allowed her to succeed beyond expectations.
Would you underwrite on-the-job training for a young performer? Your gift of $500.00 would cover a stipend for one student actor this summer season, or you could sponsor them for a week with a gift of $83.00, or $11.90 per day.
Hoosier Shakes employs student actors each year as a matter of practice. Student actors are encouraged to apply as research assistants for Hoosier Shakes through a Lilly Grant administered by Indiana Wesleyan University. Students receiving an assistantship are required to present their research as part of IWU’s Honors College’s Celebration of Scholarship.
IWU students Gloria Billingsley and Beverly Wagner presented research related to their involvement as actors with Hoosier Shakes last summer. Wagner presented “Performing Shakespeare: Then and Now”, which contrasted performance during Shakespeare’s day with the performances during Hoosier Shakes’ inaugural season.
Billingsley, assisted by 2016 Hoosier Shakes Stage Manager Joanna Ruhl, presented “Shakespeare and Rhetoric: An Analytical Approach to Acting.” Billingsley led conferees through an overview of her background work to create the character Fabian from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
Ruhl published a poster entitled “The Cost of Shakespeare: A Visual Funding Comparison of Three Shakespeare Companies” including: Chicago Shakespeare, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and Hoosier Shakes Inc. Her graphic display compared the companies’ income and expenditures side-by-side. Interestingly, while the three companies are vastly different in terms of size, their spending and fundraising percentages are somewhat similar.
The Celebration of Scholarship occurred Thursday, April 6. IWU classes were dismissed for the day, which allowed students from across campus to attend the event. The event lasted all day and student research from academic disciplines all across campus drew crowds to the Poster Hall in the Student Center and individual presentations through the Barnes Student Center.
Hoosier Shakes is pleased to announce our summer 2017 rain location in Marion will be God’s House (216 W 6th St, just three blocks south of our outdoor location at the 3rd Street Courtyard).
Performances will take place in God’s House in the event of, or threat of, inclement weather. According to Hoosier Shakes Technical Director Ryan Akers, ” We will typically make the call to relocate to our rain location around 4 PM for evening shows and 10:30 AM for Sunday matinees.”
“God’s House has a very theatrical feel,” Hoosier Shakes Executive Director Greg Fiebig stated. “The space is reminiscent of an indoor theatre back in Shakespeare’s day, complete with a balcony and thrust staging.”
God’s House is happy to provide space to Hoosier Shakes. God’s House, the 2nd oldest church building in Marion, is committed to sharing space for a variety of community events. According to God’s House Intern Director TJ Thompson, “we basically use the building one day a week. It seems a shame not to make good use of the space. We’re excited to welcome Hoosier Shakes this summer.”
Hoosier Shakes will be performing Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing in repertory Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM July 19-30.
Hoosier Shakes performances are offered to the public on a Pay-What-You-Will basis. There is no cover charge and all ages are welcome.
Hoosier Shakes recently received a 5,000 grant from the Irving Family Endowment Fund through The Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc. Thanks to this grant, Hoosier Shakes will able to produce Shakespeare’s Romeo & Julietalong withMuch Ado about Nothingthis summer at the 3rd Street Courtyard in downtown Marion July 19-23 and 26-30. Hoosier Shakes will also perform at the Charley Creek Gardens as part of the Wabash Arts Fest August 2-6
Marion, IN, Tuesday, January 31, 2017 — Executives at Hoosier Shakes have announced winning grant from the Community Foundations for a new season of shows just in time for upcoming Auditions. Such an outstanding achievement is yet another quality collaboration and the promise of good things to come. Greg Fiebig, executive Director for Hoosier Shakes praised the new initiative as exciting and is grateful for the Community Foundation’s grant program.
“We’ve been waiting to see our second summer season take shape for quite some time,” Fiebig said in reaction to the news. “Obviously, this wait has been well worth it. This Grant will allow us to continue our “Pay What You Will” performances in downtown Marion, making Shakespeare accessible to everyone.”
This announcement comes on the heels of Hoosier Shakes’ Inaugural Season, Shakespeare Theatre Association membership, and Indiana Arts Commission Grant.
The mission of, Hoosier Shakes is a semi-professional, non-profit, repertory-style theatre that produces Shakespearean pieces and other original works. We seek to engage the audience through accessible and entertaining experiences. Thus, their clear enthusiasm for live Shakespeare in performance.
We hope that Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing will also receive a thumbs-up from Grant County community, as we perform at the 3rd Street Courtyard this summer.
About Hoosier Shakes:
Founded in 2013, Hoosier Shakes is a unique initiative with goals to:
to vitalize the performance of Shakespeare and other drama for the diverse communities of Grant and Wabash Counties, Indiana by presenting inspiring, accessible, literate, experiential theatrical performance;
2) to foster community and fellowship around the enterprise of theatre in outdoor and other beautiful spaces.
3) to provide exceptional avenues for artists and audiences of all backgrounds to take part in recovering the joys of Shakespeare and live performance.
About Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc.
The Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc. is an advocate for local philanthropy and is dedicated to connecting people who care with causes that matter. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1984, the Foundation works with donors to establish charitable funds and supports non-profit organizations through a variety of grant-making efforts. The Community Foundation connects people, resources, and causes to promote sustainable impact towards the betterment of Grant County. Currently the Community Foundation holds over 300 different funds that benefit worthy charities and charitable causes in Grant County. For more information, please visit www.GiveToGrant.org or call 765.662.0065.
Hoosier Shakes was awarded an Indiana Arts Commission Arts Project Grant for the year of 2017 from the Regional Initiative Grant [RIG] Program in November 2016.
The RIG program supports different arts organizations through the contribution of funding. By doing this, the program will ensure that all Indiana citizens can have access to quality arts and cultural activities. Regional Initiative Grant programs include Arts Project Support and Mini grants, Arts Operating Support I and Arts Operating Support II.
These grants are managed through the Regional Arts Partners, which are community-based Indiana organizations that focus on providing better access to a variety of arts services within their designated counties.
Executive Director Greg Fiebig said, “the Indiana Arts Commission grant will give a boost toward our financial needs. To be specific, the Arts Commission grant ensures we will be able to cover the professional actor stipends during their time with us.”
Hoosier Shakes has operated on a “pay-what-you-will” basis. At each show, patrons were asked to make a charitable contribution to meet costs. Although this was enacted in 2016, it only accounted for about one-tenth of the budget. The rest of their income is fulfilled from organizational sponsors and private donors.