On Centre: Around Bellefonte | 4th annual ‘Bard in Bellefonte’ attempts to make Shakespeare relatable to all

Cynthia Mazzant doesn’t want people to be afraid of Shakespeare.

The Tempest Productions co-artistic director said much of his work is relatable to common day, but people get caught up on the language. She wants to change that.

That is why Mazzant is organizing the fourth annual “Bard in Bellefonte“ for a day of Shakespeare-related games and activities. It will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 4 in Talleyrand Park and is free to attend.

“It’s kind of a circus type atmosphere, but set in the 1600s,” she said.

The event is not just a straight play that some may find dull or dense, but rather a day of smaller about 15-minute activities that encourage audience participation, she said.

Mazzant’s favorite activity is “die your most dramatic death” where she said people can see anyone from age 3 to 70 spitting and spinning and falling down in hilarious fashion.

She said in years that the weather is nice, the festival draws close to 350 people to the park over the three-hour span. People can come and ago as they please, she said, with small events starting and stopping throughout the festival.

“The idea is to get people used to Shakespeare and realize that Shakespeare is really relevant,” she said.

She said all of the elements of a Shakespeare play like sex, comedy and violence are the same reasons why people go out to see current day movies and what people look for in entrainment.

Foreknowledge of plays and dressing up are unnecessary, she said, but added that people certainly can dress up if they want to get more into the spirit.

Other attractions include live music and people making balloon jester hats. The event is scheduled rain or shine and it is appropriate for all ages.

Tempest Productions is a nonprofit theater company designed to show classical and universal themes. Mazzant said getting out in the community and organizing events is important to bring the neighborhood together.