Gary Shakespeare Company

FREE Shakespeare for Northwest Indiana

Interview with Donna Rettew of the Chicago Post-Tribune

1.  What is your Name, Town of residence, position and place of employment?

Mark Baer
Crown Point
Indiana University Northwest
Asst. Professor of Acting and Directing – beginning my fifth year

2.  How long have you been involved with Gary Shakespeare?  In what capacities?

I was a founding board member in 2013.  I acted in the first show, King Lear, in a small role.  Last summer I directed the company's third show, Twelfth Night.  In January of this year I was elected President of the Board.  This summer I am playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing as well as co-directing.

3.  Can you give me a brief history of GSC and how you have ended up where you are currently located?  I'll let you put that into your own words . . .

Gary Shakespeare Company was founded in 2013 by a group of Shakespeare enthusiasts who believe every citizen of the Steel City should experience live performance of Shakespeare's works. Like many beginning theatre companies, we were jumpstarted due to the generosity of an "angel," a financial supporter who believed in the potential of the company and had the means to invest in the initial necessary resources.  In 2014 we rented a space on Lake Street in the Miller Arts and Creative District and performed significant renovations.  During that year we were producing full time, offering classes and hosting special events.  Unfortunately, our angel moved on to other projects in December of 2014, leaving us without a home.  Our 2015 season would not have been possible but for the generosity of Indiana University Northwest.   They agreed to curate our company, sharing storage space, shop facilities, and allowing us access to their theatre for rehearsals and performances during the summer months.  Our vision is to continue to incubate our summer productions at Indiana University Northwest, with a groaning season of free performances in parks and other venues around Gary.  

4.  Why Shakespeare (other than because it's in the name)?  Why Gary?  What impact does the combination of the two have?

There is a delightful dissonance in the name "Gary Shakespeare."  Both words evoke strong reactions from many people, and both are misrepresented and misunderstood.  We believe that Shakespeare's language was written for everyone.  His poetry, when spoken with honesty and clarity, can touch anyone who listens. Just as you do not need to understand every word of a song in order to be swept away by its melody; such is the power of Shakespeare's words.  We also believe that the people of Gary are worthy and capable of greatness.  And so these two words that seem a contradiction to others, fit together like a glove for us.

5.  What are some favorite stories of the impact GSC has had in Gary?

Our first performance in Marquette Park last summer was pretty magical.  Our show had been built in our safe little theatre.  We had no idea if anyone would come, or if we would be drowned out by motorcycles and ignored.  Instead, a crowd gathered.  And stayed.  Over 100 folks, most of whom had never seen Shakespeare before, stayed for the entire performance!  That's when knew we had something special.

6.  What are future plans and/or offerings, that you can share with us?  

We plan to produce two shows next summer, but are still in the process of planning our season.

7.  Is there anything else you would like to add?

In addition to 3 more performances in Marquette Park, we will perform outdoors on the IU Northwest Campus on Wednesday, Sept 2 at 5pm and indoors on the Valporaiso University Campus on October 4 at 7pm.