We’re adding a new feature to our newsletters in the off-season: Audience Spotlight!
Each audience spotlight will feature a different GRSF audience member with varying experiences with the festival. Some people may have attended many seasons and are lifelong Shakespeare enthusiasts; others may have been dragged kicking and screaming by a friend or family member. Regardless of how GRSF audience members get to the theater, we’re so grateful to have you there!
Audience Spotlight: Professor Gabriel Manrique
City of Residence: Winona
Hometown: Somewhere in the Phillipines
Occupation: Professor of Economics
A long-time fan of theater, Dr. Gabriel Manrique has attended every season of Great River Shakespeare Festival! He prefers the Shakespeare plays over non-Shakespearean plays, and has attended numerous other productions outside of the festival. Before attending the festival for the first time, Gabriel had had a lot of exposure to Shakespeare. He notes that his interest began at a young age, although most of his experience with theater had been with Broadway musicals.
Before I started 6th grade, my mom brought home a book – Four Tragedies of Shakespeare. I don’t know why but I ended up memorizing Julius Caesar. I competed in oratorical contests throughout high school and oftentimes I would use a piece from Shakespeare. I watched the Franco Zeffirelli film, “Romeo and Juliet” 12 times.
When the Festival first began, Gabriel said, he was very happy WSU would be closely involved, but was concerned about the festival’s sustainability.
“I know it hasn’t been easy,” he says, “But I’m glad the Festival is still around.”
Gabriel says one of his favorite aspects of the festival is the “innovative approaches” taken by artists and directors. Adding music, surprising moments all add to the productions. One of the things Gabriel likes about the productions is how scenery and costumes are used. He says, “They are so confident in what they do which in turn allows them to be creative without ever going over the top”. He also said that beyond the dramatics of a staged production one inevitably finds core human values and common dilemmas. He says the bigotry and hatred in The Merchant of Venice or power grasping in Julius Caesar is something we see all over the world today.
…I have to say that my recent favorite was the way Julius Caesar was assassinated. I know this sounds a bit wacky but that has to be one of the best enactments of “offing” somebody that I have ever seen!
When asked why he attended his first GRSF production, Gabriel remarked, “Shakespeare came to my town, how could I not attend? C’mon.”
Thanks for sharing, Gabriel!
If you’d like to be featured in our audience spotlight, contact our Marketing & Sales Manager, Eileen at firstname.lastname@example.org.