For the past 10 years, Butler Theatre Chair Diane Timmerman has spent her summers bringing Shakespeare to the masses in White River State Park—first as an actor and, since 2013, as Producing Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company, better known as Indy Shakes.
It’s a huge commitment of time and energy, but Timmerman has a list of reasons that it’s worth her time.
“There’s a freewheeling joy to getting together and producing a Shakespeare play outdoors, where it was originally produced,” she said as she prepared for this summer’s production of the rarely produced tragedy Coriolanus, August 2-4.
Her list continues:
-Indy Shakes gives work to Butler alumni and interns. This summer’s cast includes alumni Ryan Ruckman ’06 and Joanna Bennett ’08, and four current students are working as interns. “This project provides gainful, paying, artistically satisfying work for local artists. So that’s a driver. I seem to have the ability to give a lot of other theater artists jobs, and I really like that.”
-These free shows are an opportunity to expose more people to theater. Through surveys, Indy Shakes has found that as many as 12 percent of its audiences are seeing live theater for the first time.
-She gets the chance to work with so many talented people. “To have the professional quality of the actors, directors, designers, and everyone doing this work is incredible.”
Coriolanus tells the story of a man who ends up seizing power and wielding that over the people. The story, Timmerman said, is easy to understand and dynamic.
“I think it’s going to be our strongest production to date,” she said.
Indy Shakes was founded as the Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre in 2006-07 by a group of equity actors. They began by doing mostly contemporary work, but Shakespeare in the Park took hold and became the company’s primary activity. Timmerman was in the first Shakespeare production, The Merchant of Venice.
This year, the company launched a new traveling troupe that played a one-hour version of Macbeth in city parks, libraries, and community centers.
“What I love about this company is that none of us really have to do it,” said Timmerman, who has been teaching at Butler for 25 years. “All of the artists are gainfully employed in other ways. But this project feeds everybody’s artistic soul.”
Coriolanus will be staged August 2-4 at 8:00 PM each night in White River State Park. Admission is free. Food trucks and beer and wine vendors will be on hand and pre-show entertainment begins at 5:00 PM.
In the photo: Grant Goodman and Constance Macy star in ‘Coriolanus.’ (Julie Curry Photography)