DAVIDSON – “Performing Shakespeare,” a seminar regularly taught by Davidson College professor Cynthia Lewis, has been reimagined for the airwaves.

Lewis’s students will perform a live broadcast of “The Merchant of Venice” for a live audience at the college’s radio station, WDAV 89.9 FM, at 7:30 p.m. April 26.

The production harkens back to the heyday of radio drama and occurs on the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s baptism.

Lewis’s radio Shakespeareans will also present performances before studio audiences at WDAV on April 25 and 28.

WDAV engineers will record all three performances in the studio, compiling the strongest elements from each into a single podcast available for download.

Students will also present a non-recorded staged reading at 2 p.m. April 27 at the Italian Renaissance-style villa of Margaret Zimmermann and Price Zimmermann, a former academic dean at Davidson.

A fan of National Public Radio, Lewis conceived the idea partly to avoid time-consuming obstacles involved in presenting it on stage, such as costuming, blocking and memorizing lines.

“With a strictly listening audience, it's easier to double roles more covertly and for students to practice their lines on their own,” she explained.

Performing for a radio audience also poses unique challenges.

“Undergraduate actors typically don’t think about their voices as much as they should in order to pull this off,” she said. “Unless they have voice training, most support their voices with their throats instead of their diaphragms.”

 “The Merchant of Venice” is particularly suited for a vocal performance, Lewis explained. She also expressed her excitement about collaborating with WDAV.

“‘Radio Shakespeare’” is a great joint venture between the academic and cultural, community-outreach arms of the college,” Lewis said. “This is illustrative of what Davidson can be at its very best.”


Want to go? The public is invited to all four performances, but space is limited. Email radioshakespearewdav@gmail.com with specific reservation requests.