Bumgarner Examines 'The Immortal Bard' at E-SU's February Meeting
By Lois Holt
Special to The Pilot
Could there be any wonder that thousands of words have been written about William Shakespeare, the man, his manner and the countless mysteries surrounding his life and his works?
Widely regarded as the greatest writer and dramatist in the English language, he is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon," having been born and baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The word "bard" is comparable with many terms from other cultures but readily translates specifically to Shakespeare as meaning a minstrel. In medieval Gaelic and British culture, a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron such as a monarch or nobleman to commission a special occasion.
This is not so in the case of Shakespeare whose life, both on page and stage, will be explored by Lon Bumgarner, assistant professor of acting at UNC Charlotte on Wednesday evening, Feb. 13, when the English-Speaking Union meets at the Country Club of North Carolina.
Married in haste at the age of 18 in 1582 to 26-year-old Anne Hathaway, he became a father of twins six months later. Understandably, he left few historical traces until he is mentioned as being part of the London theater scene in 1592, a 10-year period scholars off-handedly refer to as being Shakespeare's "lost years."
But stories emerged: He was accused of deer poaching, and another 18th century story credits the start of his theatrical career to minding horses of theater patrons in London. His work was criticized. He was described as being an "upstart Crow" and further dismissed as reveling in his own conceit.
Regardless, the sheer number of Shakespeare's works - 38 plays, 154 sonnets, narrative poems and epitaphs - requires reams of reading. He was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century.
Romantics acclaimed his genius. The Victorians worshiped him to a point described by the famous George Bernard Shaw as being "bardolarty."
So, who was Shakespeare?
February's speaker, Lon Bumgarner, has been a film and theater producer, director, writer and teacher for more than 25 years. Since 1984, Bumgarner has directed or produced more than 100 pieces of theater, including productions off Broadway, at the New York Fringe Festival and Piccolo Spoleto.
In addition, he holds two MFAs as well as graduate credits from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, England, and has served as founder and artistic director of the Charlotte Shakespeare Company.
For information regarding membership in the E-SU Sandhills Branch and Bumgarner's presentation on "Shakespeare: His Life on Page and Stage," contact Hope Price at (910) 692-7727 or Hopewp@AOL.com.
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