In Shakespeare's day, the term Renaissance man came into parlance, referring to someone with several areas of skill or expertise.
Brigit St. Brigit Theatre director Cathy Kurz says her cast for Shakespeare's comedy “Twelfth Night,” which opens Monday at Joslyn Castle, is loaded with Renaissance men and women, professional educators who also love performing, directing and writing for the stage.
“We share a background of having earned degrees in theater or English, teaching from grade school to university, in public and private schools,” Kurz said. “Their artistic endeavors are extensions of the inspiration that fuels their love for teaching.”
She said the gifts they bring to the show, honed by teaching, include perception, analytical skills, context of the play, kindness and respect.
“They're all students at heart,” she said.
Among this renaissance show's educators:
Brent Spencer (Sir Toby Belch), director of creative writing at Creighton University, who won the Nebraska Book Award for his biographical memoir “Rattlesnake Daddy: A Son's Search for His Father.”
Kevin Barratt (Duke Orsino), former longtime director of education at the Rose, then drama teacher at Omaha Benson High School, now teaches at Omaha South High School.
MaryBeth Adams (Maria) taught in Los Angeles inner-city schools for a decade. She is learning services coordinator at St. Margaret Mary School and teaches theater at Metropolitan Community College.
Thomas Becker (Malvolio) teaches English, speech and drama at Duchesne Academy.
Ashley Spessard (Viola) is program director for RESPECT, a program that teaches anti-bullying techniques in the schools.
Kurz herself teaches world literature at Creighton University.
Brigit St. Brigit specializes in classic plays. Part of the rehearsal process, Kurz said, is digging into the text, the words.
“And when the text is Shakespeare — and as funny and multifaceted as 'Twelfth Night' — it attracts those who relish words. That's one reason we attract so many educators.”
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