CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — To celebrate the end of their 10th anniversary season, The Rustic Mechanicals are hosting ShaketoberFest in downtown Clarksburg, which kicked off Wednesday with a daytime educational performance of Hamlet at the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center for local high school students.
The festival will continue through Sunday at the Vintage Theatre Company. Throughout the rest of the event, the group will put on six shows, taking turns performing Hamlet and Henry IV, Part One.
The Rustic Mechanicals are the only professional Shakespeare troupe in the state of West Virginia and this is the first time that they’re having an event of this nature.
“It’s just, you know, an opportunity to bring some people to downtown Clarksburg and see some really good theatre,” said Jason A. Young, the Producing Artistic Director of The Rustic Mechanicals.
Young said that Hamlet should be a pretty big draw, “but I think all the shows going on this weekend are gonna be audience favorites for different reasons.” However, he recommends Hamlet to anyone who has never seen a Shakespeare play before.
“Unfortunately, I think people—when they think about Shakespeare, they think about plays that they were forced to read when they were in high school out of textbooks while sitting in uncomfortable, wooden desks,” Young said. “And that is not at all the case with his work, you know, this guy was a playwright—not necessarily an author. He was writing these plays for you to watch them and to listen to them.”
He also said that The Rustic Mechanicals puts a “unique style” on the plays that are “Shakespeare-centric” and that he is convinced that they can change anybody’s mind who has a negative opinion of Shakespeare.
“If you’ve never seen Shakespeare, you need to take the opportunity to do that this weekend. If you’ve never seen The Rustic Mechanicals do Shakespeare, you need to take the opportunity to do that this weekend as well,” he said.
In addition to their shows, The Rustic Mechanicals will be welcoming some friends from out of state to share the stage with them. The Virginia Blue Ridge Theatre and Steel City Shakespeare Center from Pennsylvania will be performing, putting on plays that are inspired by some of Shakespeare’s works.
Young said that it’s “nice to be able to bring in artists from Virginia and Pennsylvania, they don’t get a lot of chances to perform in West Virginia. And so, bringing them to downtown Clarksburg, letting them hang out for the weekend, and show their work to a West Virginia audience but also let us show Clarksburg off to them is, I think, just a pretty cool opportunity.”
Each show is $15 per ticket, and the performances will be at 7 p.m. every night from Oct. 26-29 However, there will also be 2 p.m. matinee showings on Saturday and Sunday.