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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2018 / March 

‘Shakespeare’s Garden,’ an immersive theatrical installation, begins March 22

March 14, 2018

Catherine McMullan and Mary Pat Gilliam
Cast members Catherine McMullan (left) and Mary Pat Gilliam, both theatre arts majors, record sonnets for “Shakespeare’s Garden.”

The Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts will present a theatrical installation, “Shakespeare’s Garden: An Immersive Sound Stroll Through His Sonnets, Soliloquies, and Scenes,” on March 22–24 at the Moss Arts Center.

The installation, which uses the spatial audio capabilities of the Cube, will enable visitors to explore an immersive sound and visual experience as they follow a meandering path through the space and listen to Shakespearean texts performed by Virginia Tech students.

One of the installation’s five stations, for example, will feature a recorded performance of a scene from “The Merchant of Venice” by Andrew Bartee, a sophomore wildlife conservation major and theatre minor from Midlothian, Virginia, and Sara Gehl, a sophomore from Lynchburg, Virginia, double majoring in theatre and multimedia journalism.

“There is special attention paid when you know that the audience will not see you at all,” Bartee said. “I have never felt more personal responsibility to clearly tell the story before.”

The project has been a collaboration of faculty members in two colleges.

Participating from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences are Amanda Nelson, an assistant professor of theatre, and Natasha Staley, an associate professor of voice and performance, both in the School of Performing Arts, who curated the selections from Shakespeare’s canon and directed the student actors. Charles Nichols, an assistant professor of composition and creative technologies, also in the School of Performing Arts, composed original music for the garden.

Meaghan Dee, an assistant professor and chair of visual communication design in the School of Visual Arts, represented the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in the collaboration. Dee created projection designs to augment the aural experience.

To complement the installation, several of those faculty collaborators — Nelson, Staley, and Dee — will join Tanner Upthegrove, lab and research specialist for Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, in a panel discussion of the use of technology in telling stories. The discussion, “Raising the Curtain on Shakespeare: Exploring Text Through Spatial Sound and Projected Image,” will be held on March 16 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 124 of Newman Library.

Also accompanying the installation will be “Garden Gatherings,” three short talks held in the Grand Lobby of the Moss Arts Center:

As the installation’s project manager, Jamie Lindsay, a senior theatre arts and public relations major from Yorktown, Virginia, has kept the many elements of design and performance organized and on schedule.

“‘Shakespeare’s Garden’ has been a great opportunity to take what I’ve learned from more traditional stage management and apply it to something entirely new,” Lindsay said. “It’s been fascinating to discover the language and structures of the theatre world that I’ve unconsciously come to rely on. I’m learning where I want to work on growing my skills next, and it’s been a wonderful way to wrap up my experiences here at Virginia Tech.”

The “Shakespeare’s Garden” installation will be held in the Cube at the Moss Arts Center, 190 Alumni Mall, on the Virginia Tech campus during the following times: 

  • March 22 from 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • March 23 from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • March 24 from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. No ticket is required.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Additional parking is available after 5 p.m. on weekdays on Alumni Mall; in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Streets; in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street; and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information is available online.

The installation has been made possible through the support of the School of Performing Arts, the Humanities at Virginia Tech, the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA), the School of Visual Arts, the Moss Arts Center, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.​

Written by Thomas Murray, of Chicago, Illinois, a graduate student studying directing and public dialogue in the School of Performing Arts.

Related: Creating Shakespeare’s Garden in the Cube

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