The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Bring Your Own Bard or lend an ear: monthly Shakespeare series opens at Té Café

On the frigid evening of Monday, January 27, actors and amateurs alike gathered at Té Café in Squirrel Hill to open the fifth season of Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ series “Bring Your Own Bard”, where Shakespeare lovers read, recite and listen to excerpts from the Bard’s vast body of work.

Just after 7:30 p.m., when the café’s chairs and tables had been rearranged to allow for a small performance space, Alan Irvine, a “Bring Your Own Bard” Coordinator, introduced himself as the host for the evening.

Over the sounds of beverage making, Irvine welcomed the crowd and introduced the evening’s theme, “Shakespeare’s Favorites,” to be interpreted as each participant chose.

After reading an excerpt from “Richard II” about Richard’s fast-approaching demise, Irvine opened the floor to anyone who wished to recite something they had prepared or could find in any of the books of plays and sonnets provided.

Té Café’s foggy windows, warm yellow walls, white lights strung across the ceiling and plentiful supply of tea and biscotti made it easy for visitors to forget the freeze and immerse themselves in the passionate performances.

As the performances started, the coffee shop sounds died down, and all attention (with the exception of a few children playing chess) was given to the Bard. Irvine’s performance was followed by two different monologues from “Macbeth”. Lighter excerpts from two of Shakespeare’s comedies, “Twelfth Night” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, followed these somber performances.

The program soon moved from monologues to scenes with multiple performers.  Three people, including Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ Artistic Director Jennifer Tober, performed a scene from “As You Like It”. Then Irvine and another performed a scene from “The Taming of the Shrew”.

Next came the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy from “Hamlet”, which has become a tradition, according to Irvine, at the opening nights of “Bring Your Own Bard”.

The “Bring Your Own Bard” monthly reading began at the suggestion of a supporter of Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks and former radio host, Kate Borger. After migrating from place to place during their first season, “Bring Your Own Bard” found Té Café and has been meeting there since its second season. “It’s a really great place, and they really like putting on these arts events,” Irvine said.

With just under 20 people in attendance, the atmosphere was cozy, not cramped.  “When you get up to 30 people, it starts feeling like standing room only,” Irvine said.

The evening ended with the reading of several sonnets.  As people filed out, they were able to make donations to support Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks as they enter their 10th season of productions in Pittsburgh parks. They will perform “As You Like It” on weekends this September.

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ “Bring Your Own Bard” meets at Té Café, 2000 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill, on the last Monday of each month until the season ends on June 30.  The next meeting is scheduled for February 24; the theme will be “Murder and Mayhem.”

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