Lakeshore Report

Group Brings Shakespeare to the Community

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April 11 — The words of a popular literary playwright who some historians say likely never left England are not foreign to one group of Gary, Ind. thespians.

Corya Channing, board president of the Gary Shakespeare company says the newly-formed group brings the works of “the bard” to the broader public.

“We think that Shakespeare is classic and teaches theater-goers and anyone who decides to watch it a lot about family, about values, love, war, all the exciting things,” she says.

Common themes in Shakespearean works the group is betting are timeless and easy to relate to.

Volunteers, about 30 residents and professional actors fueled the group’s performance of the tragedy, King Lear last summer.

The company hopes to entertain and educate.

“It’s probably not the easiest play for people to get used to or to understand, but, in working on King Lear last summer, I found, that after awhile, I really started to understand it in a whole different way,” Channing says. “We’re hoping to take Shakespeare to a level that is accessible, that people can understand it; that we’re focusing on the relationships among the characters, and I think we were quite successful with Lear.”

A few folding chairs and a modest cardboard sign a new home make for the growing not-for profit group.

The company recently moved into the former home of the miller historical society museum on Lake Street in Gary.

After performing King Lear at Indiana University Northwest’s Theater, Channing says, “we needed a place that we could call our own that we could change and make into any theater we wanted.”

New chairs and plans to craft a 50-seat, intimate theater are in the works.

The new home of the company is two doors down from the already established Theater by the Lake, and board members say, this part of Lake Street is becoming known as a theater district.

“It’s right in the heart of everything that’s happening artistically in miller,” Channing says.

She says she hopes residents see the space as their own. A recent audition for a public reading of “Romeo and Juliet” encouraged both beginners and experts to try out.

“We want to make it accessible — something that people understand. The richness of the language, the depth of the characters, the meaning of their love,” Channing says. “I hope that people come to see what we’re doing here.”

Corya says the company’s equal-opportunity efforts hope to level the stage for the Steel City.

By: Hilary Powell

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