The Frostburg State University Cultural Events Series in collaboration with FSU’s University Programming Council (UPC) will present two performances with Capital Region Performing Arts roster artist and storyteller Jon Spelman on Thursday, March 31. Spelman’s visit will feature a public performance of “Digging into Shakespeare” at 7:30 p.m. and an educational performance of “Grimm ‘n Grits” at 4:30 p.m. Both programs will be presented in the Atkinson Room (LUC232) of the FSU Lane University Center.
The afternoon presentation of “Grimm ‘n Grits” will be targeted to an audience of elementary school children from throughout the tri-state region, including students from the 21st Century Afterschool Program in Cumberland. In this program, Spelman transforms the fun of the Grimm fairy tales into exciting Southern rural stories, including a version of the “Bremen Town Musicians” called “Jack and The Varmints,” as well as the story “Grass Cape,” which combines “Cinderella” with the folktale that inspired Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”
Spelman’s evening performance, “Digging into Shakespeare,” explores his comical, entertaining, and often calamitous experiences in performing Shakespeare throughout his acting career. As the Washington DC publication The Review writes, “he lifts the audience onto the stage and sends them laughingly back to their seats.” Spelman weaves soliloquies from several of Shakespeare’s plays, including “Richard III,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “Titus Andronicus” with his own self-deprecating recollections of disastrous performances and the star-crossed love affairs they begat, or vice versa. He even retools “Venus and Adonis” as a blues number featuring musician Tina Chancey on the viola de gamba, a sort of Renaissance-era guitar played with a bow. Appropriately, “Digging into Shakespeare” wraps up with Spelman’s recollection of taking his 15 year old daughter Anna to see “The Tempest,” which features one of the Bard’s great father-daughter relationships. Shakespeare buffs will enjoy it as will those who think they don’t get Shakespeare, or at least, haven’t yet.
Spelman has presented programs for audiences across the United States and 11 other countries. He has represented the United States at the Colloquium on the Revival of Storytelling in Paris and was the first American to perform at the International Festival of Solo Performers in Tel Aviv, Israel. He received two Emmys and a Children’s Radio Award for “Three Stories Tall,” which he hosted from 1983 to 1989. Other notable appearances include National Public Radio, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Farm Park, and the National Storytelling Festival.
Tickets for both performances are available through the CES Box office by calling 301.687.3137 or online at http://ces.frostburg.edu at a cost of $7 for “Grimm ‘n Grits” and $10 for “Digging into Shakespeare.”
This engagement with Jon Spellman is funded in part by the Maryland State Arts Council Capital Region Performing Arts Touring Program. The Cultural Events Series is supported by grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to non profit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions and two regional higher education centers within the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity.