The Play’s the Thing! 

Photos courtesy of Georgia Shakespeare

by Beth Balga

For our family, Georgia Shakespeare means more than plays. We arrive an hour early to enjoy a picnic dinner. For the two kids, it’s very glamorous to pack a basket with grapes, a baguette, meat and cheese and then to dine on the covered picnic terrace. If we’re feeling especially dignified, we’ll include a tablecloth and candles. Next time I will bring chocolate to bribe my son to sit still during the performance!
For the pre-performance picnic, I recommend bringing bug spray and sitting at a table close to the building; our children were bothered by yellow jackets buzzing close to the edge of the terrace. If you’d rather not pack your own meal, you can preorder Carole Parks Catering through the box office and have dinner waiting for you when you arrive. The picnic terrace opens at 6:30 p.m. Tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tables can be reserved for large groups. Although Georgia Shakespeare is not licensed to serve alcohol, patrons can bring their own if they would like.
Georgia Shakespeare delivers top-notch productions. For  “Much Ado ” (the play our family recently enjoyed),  the colorful set evokes an island paradise, complete with overflowing flowerpots and a real fountain. When Benedick fell into the fountain while hiding from his scheming friends, the whole family laughed. But by far, the kids' favorite character was the bumbling constable Dogberry, who, despite his Barney Fife-like goofiness, ended up saving the day. As with all of Shakespeare's comedies, there are many allusions to romantic relationships  — one of the plot points in this play comedy is alleged fidelity   — but such matters  are handled with Victorian sensibilities not likely to shock or offend families.

Summer may be winding down, but there’s still time to see some of this season’s finest dramatic performances at Georgia Shakespeare, located at Oglethorpe University. ‘Tis time to pick a show to experience and dust off the picnic basket. Here are the plays being performed in repertory, along with the recommended ages for each:
“Illyria: A Twelfth Night Musical,” showing through August 5, is an eclectic adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, appropriate for ages 6 and up.
Shakepeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” showing through August 4, is a romantic comedy featuring Elizabethan costumes and dialogue. Appropriate for ages 8 and up, this performance is perfect to introduce kids to the traditional Shakespeare experience.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, showing through August 3, is a classic farce appropriate for ages 8 and up.
“The Emperor and the Nightingale” is an all-ages musical adaption of Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved story. Through August 3.
Shakepeare’s “Macbeth,” suitable for ages 12 and up, is to open the first week of October and run through October 21.

Georgia Shakespeare, Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Rd., NE, Atlanta. To purchase tickets or to reserve a table for a large group, visit or call 404-504-1473.

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