Buckhannon, W.Va. – Two West Virginia Wesleyan College students are part of a professional theatre tour bringing Shakespeare into West Virginia communities.
Derek Hess ‘23 and Haley Wilson ’22, both theatre arts majors from Bridgeport, are part of The Rustic Mechanicals’ “Twelfth Night” which will be brought to Jawbone Park in Buckhannon, Saturday, July 10 at 7 p.m. The Rustic Mechanicals are the Shakespeare troupe under Clarksburg-based Vintage Theatre Company.
Hess portrays Malvolio, the steward of the Countess Olivia’s House.
“He is a very fun role,” Hess said. “He is a character either audiences grow to love or they grow to pity. At the beginning of the play, you see Malvolio’s sort of dour. As the play goes on, you get to learn more about him, what he wants, why he acts the way he acts.”
Wilson, who has a concentration in technical theatre, took a theatre class in high school that introduced her to what would become her future career.
“I very quickly realized I wasn’t an actor,” she said. “I didn’t want to be on stage. That terrified me, but I had skills backstage.”
Wilson is the production manager, ensuring that rehearsals and the tour run smoothly with the help of prop, costume, scenic and front of house teams.
With a summer on the road, Hess and Wilson will get to see much of West Virginia such as a recent performance in the historic Strand Theater in Moundsville.
“It is making me realize how much I love West Virginia,” she said. “Getting to travel the state and bring the art to these communities is just so cool.”
Hess found his interest in Shakespeare through the apprentice troupe for high school and middle school students.
“Through giving these students an opportunity to learn Shakespeare that they will come to want to do more of which is exactly what happened to me,” he said.
“It’s a very funny, good show,” Hess said. “The play was written at a time when the line of thought was very different than it is today, but it handles the subject matter in a fun way.”
“The Mechanicals are very committed to creating shows that are as close to the conditions that Shakespeare was performed in, which I think is a really neat thing.”
Both Wilson and Hess were contracted for 2020 before COVID-19 shut down live theatre performances and are glad to join in this 2021 season.
“With the pandemic, we all realized very quickly how essential arts are,” Wilson said. “The chance to see live theatre is such a privilege and a gift. Coming out and getting to enjoy an evening and watch a show is something that a lot of us took for granted.”
Saturday’s performance in Jawbone Park is free to the public and sponsored by Create Buckhannon.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN COLLEGE
West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) is a private, four-year residential liberal arts college in Buckhannon, West Virginia. A tradition of excellence for more than 130 years, West Virginia Wesleyan is home to 14 Fulbright Scholars. The Princeton Review ranked Wesleyan one of its 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeastern Region of the United States. U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best College Rankings designated Wesleyan a “Top 20” Best Value – Regional Universities (South) and one of the “Top 75” Regional Universities (South). WVWC offers students more than 40 majors and 40 minors; graduate programs in athletic training, business administration, creative writing, and nursing; 22 NCAA Division II athletic programs; multiple performing arts groups; and more than 70 organizations. Founded in 1890, the College is closely affiliated with the United Methodist Church and abides by the Wesley doctrine that emphasizes service to others. For more information, visit wvwc.edu.