The Shakespeare conference opening Thursday at Owens Community College may not appeal to the occasional reader.
Still, even the most inexperienced Shakespearean might appreciate tomorrow night's stage performance of the comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream by the National Players.
"One woman I talked to said she wants to bring her 7-year-old daughter, and I said, 'Let her sleep through the first four acts but make sure she's awake for the last act,' " said Russell Bodi, Owens professor of English and coordinator of the Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference. "The last act is hilarious. It's the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life."
This is the second time Owens is hosting the Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference, which Mr. Bodi expects to attract about 100 attendees in addition to 67 presenters. This year's theme is "Shakespeare's Loose Ends," a reference to the loose ends presented in William Shakespeare's work.
"For instance, what happens to the fool in King Lear? He just disappears," Mr. Bodi said. "At the end of Twelfth Night, Malvolio says, 'I'll get revenge on the whole pack of you.' Does he ever get revenge? In the Merchant of Venice, what happens to Antonio? Everyone else is off getting married. What happens to Antonio?"
If that sounds like too much inside baseball, Mr. Bodi said the general public may enjoy sitting in on a session at 2 p.m. tomorrow on how to stage combat scenes with high school and college students.
Two keynote presentations also are open to the public. Matthew Wikander, professor of English at the University of Toledo, will present "This is Not the Man: Falstaff and Martyrdom" at 11:15 a.m. Friday in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts Studio Theatre, Room 111.
At 11:15 a.m. Saturday in the same location, Katharine Maus, James Branch Cabell Professor of Renaissance Literature at the University of Virginia, will present "The Properties of Friendship in 'The Merchant of Venice.'"
Tickets are available through Owens' box office for A Midsummer Night's Dream at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Also, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the Toledo Repertoire Theatre and Owens will present the staged reading "A Merry Regiment of Women," in which six women get together to discuss the availability and quality of their roles in Shakespeare's plays.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the performances, go to owens.edu. Conference information is available at marietta.edu/departments/English/OVSC/.
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