UK College of Fine Arts presents ‘Shakespeare in Love’


Mark Cornelison | UKphoto

Sabrina Jackson performs in Shakespeare in Love on April 19, 2023. Photo by Mark Cornelison | UKphoto

Courtney Suber, Reporter

The College of Fine Arts at UK finished the showing of their spring play “Shakespeare in Love” on Sunday, April 23, in the Guignol Theatre.

The show opened on April 20 and ran throughout the weekend before its last showing on April 23. 

Written by Com Stoppard and Marc Dorman, and adapted for the stage by Lee Ball, the play shows the process William Shakespeare went through while writing his famous play “Romeo and Juliet.”

However, the show has a twist. With a genderbent cast, the play shows Shakespeare (played by Bailey Patterson, a 2nd semester junior at UK) in a writer’s block when he is tasked with creating his next play. He is inspired by Viola de Lesseps (played by Addison Adams, a 2nd semester sophomore at UK), a woman he meets by chance and falls in love with.

The play is a romantic comedy with a hint of drama, ending in tragedy with Viola’s departure to Virginia with Lord Wessex, her husband from an arranged marriage (played by Lydia Yates, a 2nd semester senior at UK).

“I think that it was really important for us to get the laughs and then have everyone enjoy it, but also help the audience understand the gravity and how sad the story can be,” Adams said.

The college puts on 22 productions a year, and five of them are shows which acquire more funding and promotion like “Shakespeare in Love.”

When deciding which shows perform, the college has a process it goes through said Stephen Wrentmore, the producer at the Department of Theater and Dance and director of “Shakespeare in Love.”

“We work as a faculty to choose and select the shows. As a whole faculty, we talk about the shows. We try to create a balance of opportunities for multiple different students,” Wrentmore said.

The college began planning the show around this time last year.

“We spent the entire semester building it in the rehearsal room because in the end there’s about 60 people on stage making the show happen,” Wrentmore said.

A credit-level class was created where students completed background research not only on Shakespeare but also “Romeo and Juliet.”

“[We studied Shakespeare] so that they could speak the verse but also understand the universe of the play,” Wrentmore said.

The department also hosted open auditions, meaning anyone could audition to have a part in the show, even without membership in the College of Fine Arts.

In addition to learning about Shakespearen rhetoric and the universe in which his plays are set, students spent a copious amount of time putting the play together.

“In class, we practiced a lot more of the staging, putting it on stage and stuff like that,” Adams said.

The show brought members of the College of Fine Arts and the theater department together. Adams said that this allowed members of the cast and crew to create new friendships.

“We all had a blast and we made connections, and we were all really gonna miss each other,” Adams said.