We’re Making a Living Room and Planning for a Home
For seven years, Sweet Tea Shakespeare has been partly homeless, living blissfully off the hospitality of our gracious hosts. Today the day where that starts to change.
We’re building a strong foundation in Fayetteville and we need our community to help lay it — brick by proverbial brick. Thanks to a gracious offer by our friends at the American Shakespeare Center, we’ve agreed to purchase their gorgeous touring playhouse as soon as their current national tour concludes in early April. This playhouse, along with the set from BEDLAM‘s off-Broadway production of Pygmalion we purchased last year, combine to make an extraordinary pop-up theatre space reminiscent of Shakespeare’s indoor performance spaces. In a few years’ time, we’ll take these lovely pop-up pieces and use them as anchors for a longterm home, whether that be on a patch of ground, in a warehouse or garage, or nestled cozily in a barn. Together, our playhouse and seating areas constitute a one-of-a-kind living room where Sweet Tea Shakespeare performances can continue to transform folks into the living versions of themselves.
But to make that happen, we need our community to take up its role in this fantastic, new, playful scene in our story.
We Make Home for Our Community
Sweet Tea Shakespeare is hand-tailored and locally made, not mass produced. We connect to establish long term relationships with our audience, our venue partners and community. We build our shows, every night from the ground up — lights, music, sets… all of it. A daunting task made to look like magic. Wherever we are found, we create a sense of home. We take our role as one of the many dedicated caretakers of our community’s arts and culture vitality seriously. In more ways than plays, we strive to engage everyone in our community — our school-aged youth and university students, active duty and veteran service members and their families, visitors, and everyone who calls this place home. Because we truly believe that Fayetteville and Cumberland County deserves it.
What Happens in Our Living Room
We live in a digital era. Moments to truly engage with one another in meaningful ways are fewer and more important than ever before. Experience the antidote to disconnection and distraction with a night of magical theatre under the stars or in a setting that feels like a living room. Sweet Tea Shakespeare offers a dynamic interactive experience unlike any other in Fayetteville or the surrounding areas. An open-air or impossibly intimate theatre with musical performances, good food and drinks are the backdrop for traditional storytelling with a twist. Innovative staging builds immediate connection between actor and audience and places the audience at the center of the performance – more participant than observer.
We invite you to be a part of this exciting moment where intention met with action makes magic.
Let’s Get Real
Sweet Tea Shakespeare started as a dream. A dream to bring the plays of Shakespeare alive for new audiences. To show those audiences that words penned 400 years ago are still relevant. A dream for characters to come alive and connect with audiences. The dream started small and has grown to serve several theatre goers every year. Shakespeare came from humble beginnings. The son of a glove-maker, he charted his own course by becoming a playwright (can you imagine that dinner conversation?). Shakespeare’s band of merry men was no larger than our own group of beloved actors. 12-15 passionate storytellers transforming the complex issues of their time and making them available for everyone. We like small. We’re good at small. We’re good at stringing small things together and making them into a larger thing. We put our shows up every night from the ground up – lights, music, sets, all of it. It looks daunting, but almost by magic, it happens.
A Look at the Details
Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s purchase of the American Shakespeare Center’s touring playhouse facade and BEDLAM’s set, along with the storage and logistical elements of managing the pop-up theatre for the next few years, is a minimum investment of $15,000. In addition to this campaign, we are also engaging philanthropists, foundations, corporations, and small-to-medium businesses in a sustained giving circle meant to help make this living room project come alive by matching it with world-class organizational sustainability and staffing. If you’re interested in a high-impact gift over the next few years, including cash, operating loans, land, performance space, or other in-kind gifts, we’d love to hear from you. Simply contact our staff: Jeremy Fiebig, Artistic Director ([email protected]), or Ashanti Bennett, General Manager ([email protected]).
The American Shakespeare Center is, in many respects, the “mother ship” of Sweet Tea Shakespeare. It’s where Artistic Director Jeremy Fiebig went to graduate school, and it’s a world-wide leader in doing the transformative work Sweet Tea Shakespeare is doing in Fayetteville. BEDLAM is a noteworthy, provocative, and gregarious company in NYC (and now with occasional national tour engagements) known for upending classics in a great bear hug of intensely good acting and simple, imaginative staging.
Sweet Tea Shakespeare is a year-round theatre company producing outdoor and indoor theatre. Since its inception in 2012, STS has developed a distinctive and necessary voice within Fayetteville theatre and the performing arts. STS’s work has been recognized in the press and within the community as a vital asset in the cultural landscape of the region. STS offers a dynamic and interactive performance experience. Each performance includes a pre-show, an intermission concert, and audience engagement activities with food, beer, wine, and other treats for sale. An event typically lasts three to four hours and has an overall feel much more like attending a ballgame than a typical theatre performance. We are decidedly unstuffy. Kids — and adults — are welcome to roam around. Audiences are encouraged to bring their own seating and make themselves comfortable; the same is said for those without seating of their own as rental seating options are always available. The event is much like a party where a play breaks out.
The Honey Series at STS celebrates the work of women in theatre. Each production features women in every aspect of the creative process, from acting and writing to producing and costuming. Shows in the series include stories focused on women and often feature new adaptations of classical works by beloved authors as well as original work by female playwrights.
Lit is our irreverent series that sends up Shakespeare – over drinks. Part Bard, part improv, part music, and tons of audience interaction. Lit is a raucous celebration held in local breweries, pubs and bars.
Green Tea Shakespeare is a youth company committed to development and learning among young talent. Green Tea brings Shakespeare to young adults (ages 12-17) in a fresh way, encouraging them to find joy in stories, old and new. During monthly Green Tea sessions, company members learn to work as an ensemble to make authentic theatre. The group is introduced to acting techniques, scene study, improvisation, and study of Shakespeare’s language over the course of a year, culminating in a full production.
Behold is Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s annual Christmas concert. Behold has developed a reputation as a reflective, stirring and heartfelt Christmas celebration.
Sweet Tea Shakespeare has entertained over 16,000 audience members from our 43 plus productions. We enjoy serving the Fayetteville community we call home and will happily share our special brand of theatre with other communities. We are passionate about employing local actors and musicians who imbue our productions with their love of this place.
What our audience says…
“This is not boring Shakespeare! I have never felt so welcome with a group of people.”
“…easily the best play I’ve ever seen. From the unique costumes, the jokes, the casual welcoming atmosphere, the style of adaptation, to the songs before, between and during the performance…”
“A dedicated, talented, inspiring, loving and devoted group of people!”
“…the perfect way to spend an evening!”
“Sweet Tea Shakespeare is great for families, and would be a great way to introduce Shakespeare to children in a low-pressure, casual environment.”
“If Shakespeare were to time travel, I think he would be very at home at a Sweet Tea Shakespeare play. I’ve never had a theater experience quite like it; the great humor, rollicking music and consummate acting make each show very memorable. When I’m watching a Sweet Tea Shakespeare show I’m the happiest I’ve ever been since I moved to Fayetteville.”
“…’The Tempest’–perfect summer play, excellent cast, vibrant interpretation, lively music, good food, great crowd.”
“Best show every time. You’ll love it. Make plans to attend.”
“Such an amazing experience!! Perfectly executed!!!”
“If you didn’t understand Shakespeare when you were in high school, you’ll love the quality of entertainment, and gain an appreciation for this art form that you couldn’t get just reading it in English class.”