Write On! Louisville Book Club Aims To Teach Kids About Justice Friday, Jun 23 2017 

Eileen Yanoviak is the membership director at the Speed Art Museum. She’s also a mother.

And when her 13-year-old daughter approached her with some questions on the topics of feminism and civil rights, Yanoviak realized she could bring these two worlds together — that’s when “Citizen Girls: A Social Justice Book Club” was born.

Courtesy Speed Art Museum

“The Lions of Little Rock” by Kristin Levine.

On one Sunday every month, Yanoviak invites girls and gender non-conforming kids ages 13 through 18 to discuss the book of the month. This Sunday it’s “The Lions of Little Rock” by Kristin Levine, which is a story of how two girls, separated by race, form an unbreakable bond during the integration of Little Rock schools in 1958.

This will be the third meeting of the group, which Yanoviak says is slowly growing.

These discussions are moderated by community leaders.

“This one is going to be Robin Burke, who worked with YouthBuild and has done other community, social justice services,” Yanoviak says. “The idea is to get girls who attend access to different civic leaders in the community, or specialists in the community.”

Yanoviak says they also focus on connecting the discussions to artwork on-view at the museum.

“There’s always artists and artwork that responds to social issues,” she says. “So we go into the galleries and connect what we’re reading with what we’re seeing and think of real people who experience those social issues.”

“Citizen Girls: A Social Justice Book Club” is free and open to the public (and most importantly, Yanoviak says, you’re invited even if you haven’t read the book). More information is available here.

This Is Your Gut Bacteria. And This Is Your Gut Bacteria On Bourbon Friday, Jun 23 2017 

Take a shot of bourbon.

Likely, you’ll feel an immediate burn in your mouth and throat. Give it a few seconds. Your body temperature starts to rise. Your cheeks flush.

If you take another drink, there might be some dizziness, too.

There are effects of drinking alcohol that you can feel pretty much immediately. But there’s an entire field of study that takes a harder look at the effects of alcohol under the surface — specifically when it comes to the bacteria in our guts.

And you should care what happens to your gut bacteria because disturbing it could lead to short- and long-term health problems, from digestive issues to tissue damage.

That’s where Louisville doctor Craig McClain comes in. His NIH-designated Alcohol Research Center at the University of Louisville is one of only 20 in the country. There, he conducts research assessing how food and drink can impact our intestinal microbiome, or gut bacteria.

And his work, he and others hope, could lead to new treatments for liver disease associated with alcohol consumption.

First, What is the Gut?

“So, I am a gastroenterologist, and normally we think of the gut as having a bunch of different functions,” McClain says. “The stomach starts to break down food, has a lot of acid in it and the small intestine does mainly absorptive functions, so that’s where most of your nutrients are absorbed. And then the colon kind of regulates water absorption.”

But something McClain says many people don’t realize is that this entire tract is lined with bacteria. Lots and lots of bacteria.

“There are more bacteria in our GI tract than we have cells in our body,” he says. “There are more genes in the bacteria — a hundred times more — than we have genes in our body. So in a way, we are just kind of a receptacle for our gut bacteria.”

Ashlie Stevens | wfpl.org

Bourbon

You might hear the term bacteria and think of something dirty or sickness — but McClain says our gut bacteria are totally natural, and they’re even helpful. They play an important role in the immune system, make critical nutrients like vitamin K, maintain gut barrier functions.

“Now, when the bacteria gets altered inappropriately, called dysbiosis, then you can have big problems,” he says. “Nutrients play a critical role in happy bacteria, and our whole focus is looking at kind of alcohol-nutrition interactions with a focus on the GI tract.”

While alcohol has calories — bourbon has about 145 per serving — McClain says alcohol has “no critical nutrients in it,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t affect our gut bacteria.

“Too much alcohol can disrupt your normal bacterial homeostasis, so you get overgrowth of bacteria and not enough good bacteria,” he says. “And the tight junctions in the GI tract that keep bad stuff out get leaky, and junk goes across.”

New Research

According to McClain, this “leaking” might explain some basic things like some hangover symptoms. But learning more about how the bacteria respond to alcohol can have bigger health effects as well.

In a paper he co-wrote in 2015, McClain found that liver diseases resulting from chronic alcohol consumption and excess fat in the diet are also associated with changes in the intestinal microbiome.

For example, alcoholism seems to change the composition of the intestinal microbiome to include bacterial species that produce more alcohol, plus other toxic compounds, that can cause inflammation and tissue damage.

This is a new area of study that may lead to new treatments for liver damage that results from alcoholism and excessive dietary fat.

“We actually have a study looking at people with alcoholic liver disease — where they’re randomized to either get a placebo or probiotic, good bacteria for the GI tract,” McClain says. “And so we’re part of an NIH trial looking at that right now.”

For now, the study is still underway. In the meantime, McClain says according to current research, moderate drinking has no real effect on the microbiome, so you can safely raise an occasional glass to gut health.

For Butchertown Businesses, New Mural Is More Than Decoration Tuesday, Jun 20 2017 

For Butchertown residents and business owners, a newly-completed Story Avenue mural isn’t just for decoration — it’s a way to get people to stop and take notice of a neighborhood that’s been steadily transitioning for the past several years.

“Butchertown, we feel, is really turning a corner,” says Nick Johnson, president of the Butchertown Neighborhood Association. “In the past it’s been a bit of a forgotten, maybe neglected, neighborhood — a little abused and unloved. But with new development, more people want to live here and be part of it.”

This development is alluded to in the 5,000 square-foot mural, which was commissioned by JBS Louisville Pork Plant and created by artists Tara Remington and Aron Conaway. From design to completion, the project took about two years.

The mural is called “The Story on Story Avenue” and features eclectic images gleaned from historical and present-day photos of Butchertown activities, people and landmarks. There are references to Thomas Edison, the meatpacking tradition, the 1937 flood, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the Wesley House, and modern-day additions to the neighborhood such as the Extreme Park.

Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith says the mural is a way to encourage people to treat Butchertown as a destination rather than just a passageway from Clifton to the rest of downtown.

“Butchertown is a great example of what we like to call a ‘connector neighborhood,’ because it connects one neighborhood to another very easily and there is a lot of traffic that comes through here,” she says.

And that traffic, says Sexton Smith, could translate into dollars for area businesses.

“Because I truly believe public art drives commerce,” she says.

Andy Blieden is a developer in the Butchertown neighborhood. Blieden is owner of the Butchertown Market and several buildings nearby on East Main Street called the Butcher Block (all of which feature their own public art projects). Blieden also serves as president of the Butchertown Business Alliance, a nonprofit organization promoting neighborhood projects and businesses.

“Before we had the mural painted, it was just basically two blank walls,” Blieden says. “So it was nothing, it was at best a negative, because the building’s not particularly great to look at.”

He continues: “So what’s amazing to me is how much the energy changes when you take a couple blank walls and put a really cool piece of art on it.”

NuLu’s Dreamland To Close At The End Of June Monday, Jun 19 2017 

NuLu’s Dreamland has hosted several hundred musical acts over the past several years. But at the end of the month, the event venue will close.

The Wayside Christian Chapel-turned events space was initially renovated by the Louisville Film Society to serve as a micro-cinema in 2012. Once they located to the roomier Portland neighborhood in 2013, musician and sound designer Tim Barnes took over Dreamland with the intention of using it to cultivate the city’s experimental music scene.

Barnes says he’s known for a while that the space would be closing.

“I was notified quite a few months ago that we would have to vacate the space,” Barnes says. “I then asked Gill Holland if we could extend that so we could have the space through June.”

Barnes says he isn’t sure of the exact timeline, but he knows that the group that owns the building itself — which includes developer Gill Holland — is planning on eventually selling the building.

“And we won’t be in this space anymore,” Barnes says. “I don’t think that Dreamland is part of the game plan for whomever is the person that ends up buying the building.”

Holland — who is a member of the Louisville Public Media board — confirmed via email that “Dreamland the venue” would be moving out of the East Market Street space.

Barnes says Dreamland was a passion project — he was never in it for the money. But he says the venture did become self-sustaining.

“It wasn’t like I was digging into my own pocket to pay the rent,” he says.

But maintaining an experimental venue in Louisville has had its challenges. Part of it, Barnes says, was simply convincing people to venture out of their comfort zones when it came to genre.

“It’s great to see friends play their music and stuff like that, but the idea of adventuring outwards is tougher stuff for people because it has to be a win, you know,” Barnes says. “No one wants to go see something that they might not know, take that chance, and then they fall flat on it.”

Another part of it was a balancing act between getting folks through the Dreamland doors, while maintaining a somewhat underground vibe.

“We’re in an age where everything is so easy, you can access every single record by an artist in one minute,” Barnes says. “And I wanted something where people had to dig for it. Come and find us. I didn’t want to put up a huge sign.”

But sometimes this resulted in empty seats.

Barnes says in terms of the future, he plans on taking the summer off from thinking about Dreamland.

“But I think, if I can get some other things in place, it would be really nice to start it back up again,” he says. “I always imagined Dreamland as a project and not like ‘This is going to be my life’ and unfortunately that aspect of it has shown in me being stretched too thin also.”

For that reason, he’s also looking for people with whom to collaborate for an eventual relaunch in a new location.

“I would love to come back to it with a more robust group of people who can really make a place like Dreamland shine,” Barnes says.

For Louisville’s Young Artists, NEA Funding Offers Access Friday, Jun 16 2017 

According to Louisville Visual Art executive director Lindy Casebier, a recent grant to his organization’s Children’s Fine Art Classes (CFAC) program is a prime example of the continued importance of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Earlier this week, the CFAC program received a $10,000 NEA Arts Work grant. The award comes at a time when government support of the arts and humanities remains in question.

The money will go toward supporting the youth arts classes which have been operating since 1925. CFAC is now offered in 34 locations across the Louisville Metro Area.

“The program is our cornerstone at Louisville Visual Art,” Casebier said. “This grant will go a long way in providing art to a greater number of students who have demonstrated ability and have been selected by their teachers.”

Casebier continued: “One of the reasons this is so important is that some of these students — these young artists — aren’t offered art during the school day, so this is very helpful to them to expand on their artistic ability, as well as to students that do have the advantage of having art in the school [they attend].”

CFAC students can participate in concentrations like drawing, painting, and mixed media. Additionally, they receive instruction in art history, critiquing skills and aesthetics.

This can set students up for success when pursuing educational opportunities that require a portfolio — like attending Governor’s School for the Arts or an arts magnet high school.

This is where, Casebier said, NEA funding is so important to “level the playing field” for students of all backgrounds.

Each student chosen to participate in CFAC programs is provided a $350 scholarship to attend so that economic status isn’t a factor in a child’s participation or placement. A fee for supplies is paid by those who are financially able to support the program.

“We absolutely hope the NEA continues to be funded in its current — or even at a greater level,” Casebier said. “It’s an investment in the future of our future leaders. It helps them develop not just artistic skills, but creative thinking and problem-solving skills.”

The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu in a statement. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as Louisville Visual Art in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”

Et Tu, Louisville Dramatists? The Trickle Down Of ‘Caesar’ And Trump Friday, Jun 16 2017 

Productions of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” have always been pretty bloody. In most scripts, leading up to the assassination of the title character, the stage directions literally read: CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR.

Beyond the gore, it’s typically interpreted as a politically fraught cautionary tale about how violent decisions made to protect a republic can actually lead to its end.

So, when New York City’s Public Theater staged an interpretation of the play recently with an unmistakably Trump-like Caesar, national uproar ensued.

Behind the discussion about political speech is one about the resources that support speech — from government, corporations, and private entities and individuals. Here in Louisville, most of the major performing arts organizations are supported, in some part, by public entities.

The question for them, then, is whether the nation’s collective outrage about a modern-day “Caesar” could tamp down speech or discourage artistic choices that verge on the political.

Art As A Reflection Of Current Times

“We have often used classical plays here as a vehicle to reflect our current times, and I’m not ashamed to say that,” says Walden Theatre artistic director Charlie Sexton. “Art has got to be a reflection of what the current times are.”

He continues: “And we have done it with Shakespeare.”

Sexton directed a production of “Measure for Measure” in 2006, during the height of the Iraq War. One of Shakespeare’s lesser-performed “problem plays,” it dances around the topics of authoritarianism, mercy and what laws or principles are worth enforcing — and at what cost.

“I set the play in a very authoritarian time period in the 1930s, and I wanted it to be a reflection of the current situation,” Sexton says. “And I’m not trying to use a sledgehammer to get that point across, but I think with the right kind of director’s notes in the program and the skillful execution of the actors, a person can come away from a classical play like this and think that history repeats itself.”

Sexton says he doesn’t worry too much about funding being pulled from from his programs; the organization is not currently funded through any NEA grants and, while they are applying for one for 2018, it would most likely be towards a play to prompt discussion with their school groups about autism.

But, Sexton says, in working with Walden Theatre, which is now part of the Commonwealth Theatre Center, there’s a bit of a “balance beam” he has to walk since the organization works with both adult actors and students.

For example, when reviewing classics with the students — “from the Greeks to Shakespeare to Ibsen to Chekhov to Shaw” — he makes sure to provide them with ample historical background.

“Your discussions are inevitably going to segue into what was going on at the time and political discussion,” he says. “But at that point, you need to let them derive their own interpretations.”

Context Is Key

But according to Kentucky Shakespeare producing artistic director Matt Wallace, sometimes a director has to be cognizant that not all audience members will have that background when watching a production.

Or, in the case of Kentucky Shakespeare’s park series, people may wander into the show partway through.

“Particularly being in an open-air setting, where anyone can show up at any time and might not get the whole story, we have to be extra thoughtful,” Wallace says.

That’s not to say Wallace is opposed to re-imagining Shakespearean productions in contemporary political ways; last year, he directed a version of “Romeo and Juliet” in which the longstanding feud between the Montagues and Capulets is fueled by race.

Kentucky Shakespeare

A photo from Kentucky Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

In his director’s notes for the production, Wallace attributed the decision to “this contentious election and escalating rhetoric and violence.”

The company’s 2017 differing interpretations of “Julius Caesar” are also good examples.

Their touring school production (which took place long before the Public Theater’s version) featured the Roman elite as politicians in suits. This was often followed with discussion facilitated by school faculty about contemporary issues.

Meanwhile, the company’s mainstage production of Julius Caesar, which will premiere in Central Park in July, is a classic interpretation set in 45 B.C.

“I certainly didn’t have any specific, you know, political agenda, as I really never do in my work,” Wallace says. “But I think we do have a responsibility to honor the Shakespeare play and tell the truth through that play, through these timeless themes and ideas and issues.”

Cherokee Park To The World’s Fair: Remembering Louisville’s ‘Girl Sculptor’ Monday, Jun 12 2017 

As soon as I shut the door of his black pickup truck, Louisville sculptor Matt Weir asks what I think Enid Yandell’s grave will look like.

My initial thought is something pretty elaborate; I say I think she would have at least designed her own tombstone.

“I mean, I’ve thought of it,” Weir says, laughing. “You know, Barney Bright is buried here and he designed his own.”

We are driving through Cave Hill cemetery, 83 years to the day Louisville-born sculptor Enid Yandell died. Based on her reputation, my guess at an elaborately-adorned gravesite doesn’t seem far off.

Born in 1869, Yandell gained international acclaim in the world of sculpture at a time when it wasn’t a proper place for women artists.

“The criticism for her, at that time, was that sculpture was too rigorous for a ‘dainty woman’ to enter into,” Weir says.

But she did it anyway — going on to create strikingly realistic interpretations of the human form (something she partially attributes to growing up in a family where her father, grandfather and uncle were all physicians).

Weir parks on a shade tree-covered curve and pulls out a green folder filled with a stack of yellowing newspaper clippings.

“This is kind of my personal collection of Enid paraphernalia,” Weir says. “In this article it says she was ‘of uncommon clay.’”

Weir continued reading: “‘Enid Yandell’s statues won her fame here and abroad and some still decorate her hometown.’”

A Big Break

After graduating from the Cincinnati Art Academy, Yandell’s first big break came in 1891 when she was commissioned to sculpt caryatids — the traditional Greco-Roman pillars shaped like women — for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. These would be part of the architecture of the Women’s Building.

C. D. Arnold (1844-1927)

An archived image of the Chicago World’s Fair

While working on this project, she apprenticed under several big-name sculptors assigned to help build the fair grounds, like Carl Rohl-Smith and Lorado Taft.

This gave her the confidence she needed to return to Louisville and start taking commissions — which resulted in three works many Louisvillians still see on a pretty frequent basis.

There’s the Daniel Boone Sculpture at the base of Cherokee Park. Fun fact: this sculpture survived the “Super Outbreak” of tornadoes on April 3, 1974.

Then comes The Wheelmen’s Bench which you can see when you reach the intersection of Third Street and Southern Parkway. And finally, there’s the bronze statue of Pan, which tops Hogan’s Fountain in Cherokee Park.

Wikimedia Commons

Pan, who tops Hogan’s Fountain in Cherokee Park

There are also some of her works in more hidden locations — like the archives of the Speed Museum.

Kim Spence is the curator of prints, drawings, and photographs at the Speed Art Museum. She says they have several of Yandell’s works on-view currently in the Kentucky collection, including a plaster maquette — or study — for the Daniel Boone sculpture, as well as a newly-installed rendering of her sister.

But the Speed actually has a pretty large collection of Yandell’s pieces — mostly in plaster — and obviously can’t display everything at once. This makes for some interesting finds in the archives.

“Sitting here on the top shelf is actually one of my favorite pieces,” Spence says, reaching into an open cabinet in the archives. “It’s another painted plaster and it looks like a tankard.”

The tankard is a deep sea-foam green that is intricately decorated. On the lid there’s a small boy, and the handle is made in the image of a mermaid emerging from the sea.

“And when you lift the lid of the tankard, the figure of the boy extends down so that he can give a kiss, an upside down kiss, to the mermaid,” Spence says.

It’s this mix of functionality and whimsy that earned Yandell widespread acclaim. In 1898, she became the first woman ever to be invited to join the National Sculpture Society (and one hundred years later, in 1998, a group of Kentucky women formed ENID, a sculptor collective that still exhibits today).

Louisville’s ‘Girl Sculptor’

But her career as a woman sculptor wasn’t without snags. She was originally commissioned by a female-board to create the Confederate monument that, until last year, was located in the traffic circle on Third Street. But then the male architectural consultants found out she was a woman.

While they wouldn’t say her gender was a contributing factor in the decision, her plans were ultimately rejected.

According to Weir, however, experiences like this didn’t dissuade Yandell from staying in the public eye. She was known as Louisville’s “girl sculptor” or “bachelor maid” and covered frequently by the society columnists here, in New York and in Paris.

She also held some pretty fantastic Gatsby-style parties. In 1897, she was commissioned to create a statue of Athena for the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition. But not just any statue; it was set to be about 40-feet tall.

American Institute of Art

Enid and Athena

“And rumor had it, she had a party in the chest of Athena,” Weir says. “I think it was about 12-feet-wide You can imagine ladders or whatever it was, but just wine and laughter in the chest of Athena.”

The statue, which was shipped from Paris to Nashville in three pieces, was never cast in bronze so it deteriorated within a year of being erected. But Yandell’s legacy locally still lives on — just more quietly than one might expect.

Weir leads me across a short patch of grass at the cemetery.

“So here we are on the backside of the lake at Cave Hill and here is her very humble stone,” Weir says.

There’s no intricately-designed bronze decorations, no commemorative bust. All it says is: Enid Yandell, Sculptor, October 6th, 1869 to June 12, 1934.

After 30 Years, GSA Still Has Lifelong Impact On Young Kentucky Artists Friday, Jun 9 2017 

After this summer, the Governor’s School for the Arts — which is in its 30th year — will have served nearly 6,000 Kentucky student artists.

During this free three-week residential program, select students intensely study in one of nine disciplines which range from dance to architecture.

According to director Nick Covault, it’s an experience that can offer many students a needed pathway to higher education as 27 colleges and universities currently offer scholarships to program alumni.

But, he says, it’s not just for students who see themselves as career artists.

“I would say that the goal of GSA is not necessarily to create 256 of tomorrow’s Broadway stars or the people whose work you’re going to see in the MOMA one day,” Covault says. “That will happen — and that does happen — if our focus is truly on developing the next generation of creative leaders.”

Covault’s personal story is a great example: He went to GSA as a student in 2002 to study vocal music, spent three summers there as an administrative intern while pursuing a double major in vocal music performance and arts administration at the University of Kentucky.

He is now the first GSA alum to serve as director of the program — a position he took in November.

The crop of creative leaders that GSA has produced so far have gone on to varied careers. This is something Covault says is important to recognize amid talks of cuts to funding for the arts and its place in the modern workplace.

“This summer, we will even have a panel of GSA alumni speak to the students who have gone on to be very successful in their careers, and those careers are not necessarily arts-based,” Covault says. “You can be a creative artist and still be a lawyer, still be a doctor, still be a teacher.”

Good Vibes: Louisville Concert To Honor Jazz Legend Lionel Hampton Wednesday, Jun 7 2017 

Musician Dick Sisto says that if Lionel Hampton hadn’t been born, he — and an entire generation of jazz artists — wouldn’t be playing “the vibes.”

Lionel Hampton was born in Louisville in 1908 and is credited with popularizing the vibraphone.

“It’s not a xylophone, it’s not a marimba, it’s a different instrument,” Sisto said. “Those are made of wood, this is made of metal. It has a pedal, it has a vibrato. It’s a wild instrument.”

For years, Hampton played with the Benny Goodman Quartet before becoming a successful bandleader. He went on to receive honors from Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and performed well into his 90s before his death in 2002.

“I love this quote that he would say: ‘Man, as long as people want to hear jazz, I’ll give it them,’” said Mayor Greg Fischer at a news conference announcing the concert. “So he played until his final days”

To honor his legacy, Sisto (full disclosure — he’s the the host of WFPK’s “Inner Ear’) will lead a group of featured jazz artists who will pay tribute to jazz greats past and present.

They include: trumpeter Barry Ries, guitarist Bobby Broom, bassist Jim Anderson, keyboardist Bobby Floyd, drummer Art Gore and special guest Harry Skoler on clarinet.

The concert will take place in the Bomhard Theater of the Kentucky Center on Saturday, Oct. 7. Proceeds will benefit the Lincoln Foundation’s Whitney M. YOUNG Scholars Program.

Featured image: Lionel Hampton (vibes) and Gene Krupa (drums) performing with Benny Goodman’s orchestra in the Bay Area, ca.1939, photographed by Joseph Park Biehl

1 Part Improv + 1 Part Shakespeare = Late Night Shakes Friday, Jun 2 2017 

Alec Volz walks briskly in front of an imaginary audience, pausing only to state: “Act 1, Scene 1 — The Meadow, Night.” He spins on his heel, turning to face actor Brian Hinds and assumes character.

“Prithee, good Marcellus,” Volz says. “Hast thou come up with the drugs thou needest?”

“That I needest, indeed I have,” Hinds replies.

It reads kinda like Shakespeare, right?

That’s the idea of the Louisville Improvisors’ “Late Night Shakes.” Company members Volz, Hinds and Chris Anger take the basics of improv, apply them to some Shakespearean tropes and come up with a production right on the spot.

It starts with a three-word prompt: an occupation, a gerund (quick grammar refresher: that’s an action verb that ends in “i-n-g”) and a world city. The result is something like this: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have William Shakespeare’s lesser-known work, ‘The Wandering Physician of Helsinki!’”

For the next 30 minutes — using the basic improv technique of “yes, and…” — the Improvisors weave together the story of an aged king whose son disappears to become a wandering physician. He moves from small town to small town to aid the sick, all while ignoring his own status as next-in-line to take over the throne.

It’s full of twists and turns, some of which seem a little far-fetched, like when the king finds out the court jester, Jingles, is actually his other son. But when you think about it, a lot of Shakespeare is pretty far-fetched. There’s the sculpture who is actually the king’s dead wife in “Winters Tale,” all the magic in “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” or even Hamlet’s ghost-dad.

That actually frees up the Improvisors in some unique ways. For example, in traditional improv it’s bad form to kill off your fellow performers.

“But it works in Shakespeare,” Anger says. “You can be a ghost, you can be his twin brother, someone needs to be avenged.”

Regardless of what direction the play takes, the Improvisors make sure to ground it in actual Shakespeare. Before every practice, they run scenes from the real plays.

“It gets you thinking in the rhythms,” Volz says. “Finding the words that are used and how his sentences are constructed.”

And for Hinds, working through Shakespearean improv has been helpful in a unique way; he’s also a cast member in this year’s production of “Julius Caesar.” He says improv has changed how he engages with the text.

“Things like truly being in the moment,” Hinds says. “What’s your relationship to this character you’re with? What do I want from this character and what words do I say to get it?”

You can catch the Louisville Improvisors’ “Late Night Shakes” four times during the Kentucky Shakespeare season. The first opportunity is Saturday night after “Much Ado About Nothing.”

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