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Local theatre troupe bursts back on stage after pandemic-induced hiatus

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CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — A common phrase for anyone who has ever been in show business is ‘the show must go on.’

One theatre troupe in Barboursville is living up to that, after going more than a year without live performances.

The Alchemy Theatre Troupe—based in Cabell County—prides itself on its live performances, and has since its inception in 2017.

After the pandemic shutdowns, this troupe is more than ready to get back to what they do best—beginning with the 4th annual West Virginia Shakespeare Festival.

“Plays were meant to be performed, and not read on the page. The real way to understand and see, like really get the point of a show is to watch it live,” says Hilary Brewster, who plays ‘King Creon’ in Sophocles’ play “Antigone.”

For the actors and actresses of the Alchemy Theatre Troupe, the pandemic complicated things.

“Fighting our way through the pandemic was a very interesting experience. We had all these grand plans for shows and then no audience; and no way to rehearse them together,” says Michael Naglee, who is acting in “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged).”

“I think we all missed it. A lot. And we all recognized what we had once we couldn’t have it,” says Nora Ankrom, executive director of the Alchemy Theatre Troupe.

They had to get creative with sharing their art last year:

“We were able to hold the third annual West Virginia Shakespeare Festival by recording individual actors as stage readings of ‘The Tempest,'”Ankrom says.

However, this year the outlook for the 4th annual West Virginia Shakespeare Festival is comparatively much brighter—and live!

“We were able to get kicked back off by a generous grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council,” Ankrom says.

As a result, the festival spans several weekends, including showings of “Antigone” and “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged),” workshops, and an all-day festival event.

Members of the troupe say festivals like these can offer more than just entertainment to the community.

“The more people we draw in from outside, the more local businesses get their business, and we start to grow everything from the community’s empathy and the way they interact with each other to just the economy,” Naglee says.

Now, all that’s left for this troupe…is to ‘break a leg.’

“I’m just crossing every finger, every toe, that the weather clears up in time for opening night,” Brewster says.

All shows are at the Barboursville Park Amphitheatre. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own seating and refreshments.

The all-female cast of “Antigone” opens on June 11th and plays June 13th as well as June 19th, all at 8:30 p.m.

For tickets to “Antigone,” visit their website here.

The comedic performance of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)” opens June 12th at 8 p.m., and plays June 18th at 8:30 p.m., June 19th at 5:30 p.m., and June 20th at 8:30 p.m.

For tickets to “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged),” visit their website here.

For tickets to the festival event on June 19th, visit their website here.

The workshops—made free by the grant money from the West Virginia Humanities Council—take place on June 14th-16th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the ReGeneration Church in Huntington on 4th Avenue.

To sign up for those workshops, visit their website here.

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