So we lost the High-Point-based Shakespeare festival last year. It was a long, slow death, and thespians throughout North Carolina wept. But in a manner akin to those inane “happy dance” commercials (for public TV and a certain insurance company), the sitting of shiva didn’t last long, in part because there’s too much to do. And the Bard of Avon has been theatre’s bedrock since long before Gibraltar was held by the Brits. So, to borrow a really terrible pun, all one must do is shake a spear around here (because our theatre community is so robust) and plays – Shakespearean plays – come out of the woodwork. And that’s what’s happening now, in the Triangle. As Charles Phaneuf (of Raleigh Little Theatre) puts it, the idea grew from a sort of “comes-the-dawn” awareness that there’s a whole lot going, Shakespeare-wise, this spring.

There was a big kick-off on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at the Hive, an upstairs room (totally inaccessible to persons with physical disabilities) over the Busy Bee Café. VisitRaleigh supported it, and WUNC Radio was media sponsor. There was music from Melted Butter and a warm-up from the Nickel Shakespeare Girls (of which there are, FYI, two crews): this trio fit the “can’t-we-just-hear-a-bit-of-it” mold as the ladies (using the term somewhat loosely) romped through the plays being done here.

Phaneuf introduced Frank Stasio, of The State of Things, who brought forward the ADs (mostly) of the companies involved in Wherefore: Shakespeare in Raleigh for an engaging panel discussion. The speakers, their companies, and the plays they are doing are listed below, in chronological order:

Also on hand were representatives of NCSU Center Stage, which offers The Tempest on Feb. 27, and a packed roomful of (at times) wildly enthusiastic theatre people. If the euphoria spills over to all the pending plays, this should be quite a “do” in our region, accidental or not!