Can one desire too much of a good thing? That was the question posed by the Bard when he wrote ‘As You Like It.’
The folks at the Maryland Shakespeare Festival hope for nothing but good things when they hold their ‘Love and Hate’ fundraiser at 8 p.m. on Saturday at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Frederick.
“We’re doing this event; it’s some love scenes from Shakespeare and some not-so-much love scenes from Shakespeare,” said John Bellomo, artistic director for the company. “We’re just trying to have a fun event, something different that people can do on Valentine’s night instead of dinner and candy and things like that. They can come and see a show, come and see some scenes, have some fun, maybe have a sonnet be read to your loved one at the event. Just an alternative to a movie or something like that for Valentine’s.”
The event is a fundraiser for the group. There will be food, beer and wine and, because it just wouldn’t be romantic (or Shakespearian) without it — live sonnet readings for your special someone. All of the proceeds go to help benefit the group’s summer tour.
“We’re trying to raise money,” Bellomo said. “Last year we had to not do our summer tour because a lot of our venues, our long-standing venues that we’ve been going to for years and years, didn’t have the funding to bring us in. So we weren’t able to do the summer tour like we had in the past. So we’re hoping we do a little fundraiser, we can raise some money so we can do a show — especially here in Frederick.”
Bellomo said being able to give back to Frederick, basically their base of operations, was important.
“We don’t get paid when we perform in Frederick,” Bellomo said. “We’ve always done our Frederick show for free for our community, for our home. Most of the other venues are paying up to $3,500 to bring us in per performance. So some of the venues bringing us in for multiple nights were paying more. In Frederick, we would always come in and do two shows and not charge the city or the parks.
“That, coupled with the venues last year not being able to bring us in because of their funding problems, created just a vacuum for us and we couldn’t afford to do anything last year. Hopefully, with this fundraiser, we’ll have awareness and we’ll be able to get the tour back on track and bring a free performance of Shakespeare specifically here to Frederick.”
Shakespeare wrote plenty about true love — ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ and ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to name a few. With shows such as ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ Shakespeare also managed to write a play about love and hate.
With so many of Shakespeare’s plays involving those basic human emotions, it’s not surprising Maryland Shakespeare Festival took advantage of Valentine’s Day for their fundraiser.
“I’ve always had this idea of doing a show with scenes of love and hate from Shakespeare,” Bellomo said. “We do an educational program for the middle schools where it’s kind of the same idea. It’s just not about love and hate — it’s about different scenes from Shakespeare and we talk about the history of Shakespeare and we talk about the life and times and the theater.
“We’ve had board members who’ve seen that show and thought it would be really fun for adults. In the back of my mind, I had been looking for an opportunity to create a show like our educational program, but for adults.”
While there will be plenty for the lovers out there, those who have fallen out of love will find plenty in the show, as well. In fact, according to Bellomo, the Maryland Shakespeare Festival has already sold many single tickets to the event.
“There’s going to be some scenes in there of people who aren’t necessarily in love,” Bellomo said. “Shakespeare wrote some great love scenes, but he also wrote some great scenes full of hatred. We’ve incorporated some of those in there.”
In the end, it’s still about educating the public about the works of the Bard and attracting those people to see more and more shows.
“I think we have a very different approach to Shakespeare,” Bellomo said. “Our philosophy is that Shakespeare wrote for everybody. He was a businessman, so he was trying to write entertainment — he wasn’t creating high art … we tend to look at Shakespeare as high art today, but really he was not trying to do that. He was just trying to sell his plays and sell as many tickets as he could.
“Because of that, they were a lot of fun and they were much more exciting than we tend to think of them. That’s our approach — we make everything we do fun and exciting. ... We’re hoping some new people get turned on to Maryland Shakespeare Festival and people will come and see we have a different approach.”