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One of the most well respected and high-profile arts events every year is the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare in the Park, which is held several weekends in a row during the late summer at the Centennial Park Band Shell.
Shakespeare in the Park has become a yearly summer tradition for many in a city where professional theatre has not yet attained traditional status.
Indeed, many—if not most—of the 500 to 1,500 patrons who attend every night of the Festival’s presentations do not attend professional or community theatre anywhere else in the city. At a Shakespeare in the Park presentation one will find every age range, social and economic class, race, creed and cross section represented proving beyond a doubt that the Nashville Shakespeare Festival has with Shakespeare in the Park achieved that rare and often unattainable goal of returning Shakespeare to the masses as it was intended to be performed.
In order to help celebrate the company’s 20th year of Shakespeare in the Park ,the Nashville Shakespeare Festival will be presenting two shows this summer instead of the traditional one. Opening August 16 is The Merry Wives of Windsor directed by Brenda Sparks. In this version of the show Windsor is a small town in southern Louisiana around a celebratory time not unlike Mardi Gras.
A week later on August 23 The Nashville Shakespeare Festival Apprentice Company will open Two Gentlemen of Verona, which has never been performed by the Festival before because of its high number of young characters. The Nashville talent pool for youth has never quite been up to the demands of the script until recently and consequently resulted in a total blackout of the script by the Festival.
As of last year The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Apprentice Company has gotten incredibly strong and the training that the Festival provides them has finally paid off. The Apprentice Company will have the leading roles in this year’s performance of Two Gents and be supported by professionals from the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s mother company in what is sure to be an excellent role reversal because members of the Apprentice Company have traditionally been consigned to being faeries and spirits and other supporting roles in the Shakespeare in the Park productions.
In an effort to reinterpret some of the harsher elements of Two Gents, the Apprentice Company will be staging the show in a clown world where life is always a circus. In preparation for the upcoming show the Apprentice Company have been training hard this summer not only with traditional acting training but also such things as juggling and pratfalls.
The Merry Wives of Windsor will run August 16-19, 25-26 & 30-31 as well as September 3, & 8-9. Two Gentlemen of Verona will run August 23-24 and September 1, 2, & 6-7. All shows take place at the Centennial Park Band Shell. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Pre-Show entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m.
Recently, Nashville Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Denice Hicks sat down with O&AN to tell us about this year’s productions. For more information on the Nashville Shakespeare Festival or Shakespeare in the Park visit www.nashvilleshakes.org.
O&AN: Everyone is familiar with Shakespeare in the Park, but that’s certainly not everything the Nashville Shakespeare Festival does. Why is the work that you do outside of Shakespeare in the Park so important?
Hicks: I feel like we are warriors fighting hard to keep the English language important to young people. It can be so empowering when you know how to express yourself through language instead of through fists or guns. Every opportunity that we have to get Shakespeare into the mouths of young people we do. We’re not going to show you how to do Shakespeare; we’re going to play with you and encourage you to do it too.
Young people really have a sense of what theatre is all about that seems to sometimes get lost on older professionals who have been jaded by working for money all their lives. We also subsidize with grant money for the poorer schools. For the production of Hamlet we have coming up at the new Belmont Theatre in January, we have some grant money earmarked for Title One schools to be able to bring their students to see the show. Hopefully we will be paying for their busses as well as for their tickets.
O&AN: Do you feel that bringing theatre into public schools is even more important now as arts and drama programs are being forced out of the curriculum in many areas?
Hicks: I think it’s even more important now than ever. For the teachers who are kind of corralled into teaching Shakespeare it becomes less relevant if they don’t understand that it’s drama and not literature which is where Shakespeare is usually taught in school. Frankly, Shakespeare is boring when it’s read on the page. That’s not what it’s written for. Once those characters are in someone’s body and in their heads and they can come to life it is a whole different experience that is wholly unlike reading flat words on a page. When you perform Shakespeare, you have a real sense that you are invoking something primal and unique that has been invoked over the years by every actor who has ever stepped into the role and if we can share that with someone then we really want to be able to do that.
O&AN: Celebrating 20 years as a professional theatre company in Nashville is no mean feat. Other theatre companies who put on equally engaging offerings have come and gone at a seeming breakneck pace. What is it that makes The Nashville Shakespeare Festival endure in the midst of all of this?
Hicks: I really think we have managed to carve out a niche for ourselves over the past 20 years because we are always in the same place at the same time every year with a fairly consistent product that people have come to trust in expecting. If they have been before, they already have a good idea of what their experience is going to be like.
Our concepts may vary widely, but there is always the sense that you are going to get a quality performance unlike anything else that can be found in Nashville. Between us, People’s Branch, the Tennessee Rep and Nashville Children’s Theatre—Nashville’s only four professional Equity (union) companies—we have a great talent pool from which to pull.
We are so fortunate to have some of the great actors like Ross Brooks and Jenny Littleton here in Nashville because they could work anywhere and do well. They choose to stay here. I feel a real obligation to make sure they stay employed so they will continue to choose Nashville over Atlanta or New York. The more quality actors we keep here the more diverse and quality actors we will attract to the city. We are totally committed to helping the great actors we have in Nashville keep their bills paid so they will stay.
O&AN: How can people who are interested in helping keep The Nashville Shakespeare Festival alive and well best contribute to the cause?
Hicks: Giving money is always the best thing that people can do to help. The more money we raise the better shows we are able to put on. Every hundred dollars that someone gives us helps a thousand people see our shows.
About a third of our budget comes from donations. When the community supports our work it lets us and the local arts commission know that this is important to the community. Without people who care enough to support our work we might go away, but I really feel like the arts commission and the other funding that we get is largely based on community service as well. Their support speaks volumes about how important it is to them
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.