Henry Higgins may have asked, "why can't the English learn to speak," but it was an Englishman who taught Americans how to speak -- Shakespeare style -- when Andrew Wade, Head of Voice for England's Royal Shakespeare Company, spent the week of Dec. 15-Dec. 20, 1996 coaching Twin Cities actors and prepping the Guthrie Theatre's resident company for their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which opened Feb. 2. His labors -- er, labours -- have apparently paid off, because the production was extended seven performances past its original April 6 closing date.
"I am delighted that audiences have been so enchanted with this production," said artistic director Joe Dowling. "The demand for tickets has been remarkable." This is the first time in 10 years the Guthrie has extended a production.
The Guthrie also happily boasts that as of April 2, exactly 18,239 students have attended its production of Midsummer Night's Dream, a record for Shakespeare plays at the theatre. Already this year, 50,470 students have attended Guthrie shows. Says education coordinator Sheila Livingston, "Shakespeare's language is all here to be heard clearly and beautifully by everyone. The staging is so energetic and in touch with the spirit of today's youth."
Among the 18,000 kids who spent a day at the Guthrie Dream-ing were 2,800 from Project S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a special program for high schools, done in conjunction with the Guthrie and Lifetouch Inc. (The acronym stands for Students Undertaking Creative Control Essential For Self Esteem and Success).
A native of Lincolnshire, Wade is on the board of directors of the British Voice Association and is the external examiner for the postgraduate diploma in voice studies. At the RSC, he co-directed (with Cicely Berry) the prose and poetry evenings Words Words Words (1994) and Journeys (1992). "He is one of the most important and well-respected figures in the world in speech and voice training," Dowling said of Wade. "I feel it is important for actors at the Guthrie and in the Twin Cities area to...work with someone of his caliber."
Shakespeare's woodsy romantic comedy has been running in repertory with Arthur Miller's comedy/drama of family discontent, The Price.
For tickets and information on A Midsummer Night's Dream, now through April 17, call (612) 377-2224. They've even set up a fax number - (612) 397-8177 -- to handle credit card orders only.
--By David Lefkowitz