Much Ado About Shared Radiance
Imagine you are back in your high school English class. Time passes by slowly as you try to decipher Hamlet on your desk. The words are swirling around in your head, making absolutely no sense in modern English. Who is Polonius? What even is a Laertes? “There’s no way people actually enjoyed these plays,” you think to yourself. That is where Shared Radiance steps in.
Artistic Director Sherri Raeford founded Shared Radiance Performing Arts Company in 2013 in rural Guilford County. Raeford has a rich performing arts background, including a degree in theatre, an internship with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, and serving as the Outreach and Education Director for the North Carolina Shakespeare.
The name “Shared Radiance” refers to sharing the light with the audience as was practiced during Shakespeare’s time. The plays are interactive, experiential, and shared with the audience in an immediate way which blends the worlds of audience and actor. The mission of Shared Radiance Performing Arts Company is to entertain, enlighten, educate and explore experiential and interactive theatre through the works of Shakespeare and beyond.
“This is the most welcoming, loving, whole-hearted group I’ve had the pleasure of working with possibly in my entire career. I came to you as a novice to both Shakespeare and outdoor theater, and I was able to bend genders, play my part, and reap the support of so many beautiful souls from one production,” says Sarah Elizabeth Carroll, a local actor. “They pushed me past my musical theater comfort zone, forced me to improvise, and surprised me with their perseverance and integrity to keep the bard’s work alive and relevant.” Carroll first joined Shared Radiance in October 2021 for their production of Merry Wives of Windsor.
Shared Radiance places a strong emphasis on working with young people and providing opportunities for participants of all ages to grow and explore. The group performs 50-minute Shakespeare compilations in schools across the state in addition to mainstage and adult productions. In March 2022, Shared Radiance and Creative Greensboro collaborated in producing Shakespeare’s The Tempest with teenagers and young adults.
“They made Shakespeare really fun. I’ve always kind of hated Shakespeare, but I had a lot of fun with this one. I think it was so cool how they included the audience,” says a local NC student reacting to the ShakesCollage school tour. ShakesCollage is a 50-minute Shakespeare Compilation the organization performs in schools across the state.
ArtsGreensboro recently awarded Shared Radiance a Re-entry Grant to enhance funding for production and actor contracts for Richard III, thus nurturing and sustaining local artists. In the past, ArtsGreensboro provided Arts Education in the Schools monies for performances in Title I schools as well as NC CARES for Arts Funding during COVID for sustenance. Shared Radiance also receives support and funding from Stokes County Arts Council, Davidson County Arts Council, High Point Arts Council, and the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Arts Council.
“ArtsGreensboro, Guilford County, and the North Carolina Arts Council have provided advocacy, support, funding, and encouragement for artists and arts groups in the area that proved instrumental in our survival over the past two years,” states founder, Sherri Raeford. “It has been exciting to see new growth, energy and creativity emerge from our shared challenges, thanks to the Arts Council and collective efforts of many.”
This fall’s offerings include A Serial Killer’s Daughter by NC writer Pat Riviere-Seel and Adapted by Sherri Raeford for the stage opening in September, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in October. Shared Radiance offers their school Shakespeare tour and workshops year-round. For more information about Shared Radiance, click here.