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Highview Arts Center in southeast Louisville is opening its first live show, a slapstick work about Shakespeare’s plays

A rehearsal for "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)."
Courtesy Highview Arts Center
A rehearsal for "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)."

A new performance and art space in southeast Louisville is opening its first live production this week.

The Highview Arts Center presents “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” which jams 37 of the Bard’s plays into just 97 minutes. 

Keith McGill, who directs the show, said it’s pure slapstick, “the play-gone-wrong premise.”

It’s about a small group of actors attempting this Shakespearean feat and trying to get through all of the plays in “whatever way possible, like playing multiple roles, switching back and forth very quickly. But still trying to get the main essence of all the plays.”

He thinks it’s a great first show for the center because Shakespeare is a recognizable name, but you don’t have to know everything about his work to understand or enjoy this play.

“And it's a comedy. It's always, I feel, really good to open with something that's, ‘Hey, theater is fun,’” he said.

McGill is excited for the potential that comes with a new venue in this part of the city.

“If you can go out across the street, or down the street, or five miles away to see a play or concert, it's so much more accessible, which means you'll be so much more likely to go,” he said. “And that's the first way you see it's fun, then you'll be more likely to come back.”

City funds helped make Highview Arts Center a reality – the center continues to receive financial support, according to a spokesperson.

Metro Council Member James Peden, who represents District 23 which includes Highview, Okolona, Fern Creek and several nearby suburbs, has been credited with getting the project off the ground and being an advocate for its success.

He told WFPL in May 2020 that arts and culture offerings are “generally lacking in the suburbs.”

“Are more people asking for this than, say, asking for sidewalks? Probably not,” Peden said then. “My government philosophy is to provide what the people either won’t or can’t economically provide for themselves. This fits that category, just like a sidewalk.”

McGill said it’s also a win for the local theater community.

“We have various spaces,” said McGill, listing off venues like the Henry Clay Theatre, the Whirling Tiger and Art Sanctuary. “But having another one and having another one in a different area of town can only be a boon.”

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” runs through Sept.18.

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