MC alumni directs modernized Shakespeare play

A new professor from New York is making an impact. Maryville College is welcoming back 2013 alumni Walker Harrison as an adjunct instructor of the theater arts program. 

Harrison grew up in Loudon, Tenn. before making his way to New York City, where he has worked on Broadway productions.

For this semester only, he’s back at Maryville College teaching a class entitled “Acting in the Twenty First Century.”

The class covers topics such as auditioning for plays, determining a person’s “brand” as an actor, and acting for the camera. The overall goal of the course is to improve students’ acting skills and prepare them for a full-time career in acting. 

Teaching isn’t the only thing Harrison has come back for this semester. He’s also directing a major production for the college, William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” 

The play is about a young couple, Benedick and Beatrice, who despise love and engage in comedic banter with one another—before finding out about the other’s supposed secret love for each other. Harrison plans on putting his own twist on this timeless classic by having it reflect what life is like in today’s world with contemporary ideas on love and war. 

“It’s going to be very modern,” Harrison said. “We’re leaning into uses of technology where they [the actors] are on their phones, and there’ll be various forms of social media that will be alluded to.” 

He’s also indirectly playing with the idea of genderbending by casting a female for the male character of Benedick. 

“I didn’t come here with any preconceived notions of how I wanted to play with gender,” Harrison said, describing how he came about this decision. “We got into the audition room and did callbacks. The right people for the role weren’t going to fit into a traditional heterosexual relationship.” 

With phenomenal actors and hilarious comedy with a modern twist, this show is sure to be top notch. The show will have multiple performances on Thursday Oct. 10, Friday Oct. 11 and Saturday Oct. 12 all at 8:00 p.m. The final show will be Sunday Oct. 13 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $7 for students and senior citizens, and free for Maryville Collage students, faculty, and staff. It’s a show you do not want to miss!

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