Celebrating Shakespeare at Kendal

June 19, 2018

The meade, cider, and ale flowed on a recent night at a Shakespearean-era tavern. Kendal’s Dining Room had been transformed: the long tables had been covered with planks of wood and decorated with flowers, and held bowls of enormous turkey legs. This merriment was a highlight of the “Merrie Month of May,” Kendal’s celebration of the great William Shakespeare. Events took place May 14-21, and included movies, a visit to Staunton to see a play, and a guest lecture.

According to resident Dianne Herrick, the organizer of the week’s activities, the idea to celebrate the Bard came about after Kendal’s Culture and Entertainment Committee had planned an outing to see a performance of The Taming of the Shrew at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse in nearby Staunton — the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater.

David and Carolee Chamberlin, who plan to move to thenew Sunrise Ridge Cottages once complete, took part in many of the Shakespeare activities as they wait for their home to be completed. They attended a “very informative” lecture by Sarah Enloe, Director of Education for the American Shakespeare Center, which discussed the play’s staging. “She conducted it in a way that made it a lot of fun,” said Carolee Chamberlin. “Everyone took part in selected readings. She had the room set up as part of what the stage at the Blackfriar Theatre looks like” — sitting in three sides around the room.

The performance of The Taming of the Shrew later in the week was very enjoyable. “That theater has a lot of audience participation, and they made it look like it would have been in Shakespeare’s time,” continued Ms. Chamberlin.

The Chamberlins also attended the Shakespeare dinner, where the menu included Petruchio’s Pottage (vegetable and herb soup); Falstaff’s smoked turkey legs; Bard’s Beefy-Stywyd (stewed beef); Portia’s potatoes and peas; and Shylock’s strawberry tarts. Mr. Chamberlin laughed as he shared that since there were no knives on the table, only spoons, several guests “cheated” by using their Swiss Army knives to manage the foot-long turkey legs!

David and Carolee Chamberlin, who have already moved to Lexington from their home in busy Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, are eagerly awaiting the finished construction. Ms. Chamberlin explained, “For us as prospective Kendalites it was a nice setting to meet-and-greet some of the people we already knew in a laidback setting.” She added that she and her husband were initially drawn to the beauty of the senior living community: “The first time we went to Kendal was just a feeling of peace.”

This is the first year that Kendal residents have organized a week devoted to William Shakespeare. Resident Dianne Herrick explained that last year, residents organized a dinner murder mystery set in the 1940s, which featured residents acting out a radio script. Everyone had such a wonderful time that it led to the foundation for this year’s Shakespeare dinner.

Discussing the thought that went into planning the dinner and all the week’s activities, Ms. Herrick added, “What I have appreciated from this is that it is really fun for the residents to be thinking about this. It is fun for our dining staff to do something different like this. It gives some spark!”