By Victoria Pan

Let’s be honest. I don’t have to try my hardest to convince anybody reading this blog in their spare time to go see a Shakespeare production. We all know how important it is to support the arts. We all can imagine what a difficult job it is to make Shakespearean language flow off our modern tongues and seem as alive and fresh as it was and still should be. We all know how difficult it is, in these days where I can pick any show I want from halfway across the globe (not just the Globe itself), thanks to the Internet, to keep audiences’ attention riveted on plays that no longer really need spoiler alerts. Especially audiences composed of elementary, middle, and high schoolers, which the poor folks at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival have been saddled with entertaining every day for the past two or three weeks.

Image result for winter shakespeare nashville hamlet images

Despite all those budding Shakespeareans, this is not a watered-down production of Hamlet. Sure, this is not the place for anything too avant-garde, but it’s still Hamlet in all of its cerebral, philosophical glory. I could tell you about how masterful Sam Ashdown is as a Hamlet, and how he uses all of his not-inconsiderable energy to bring the full force of Hamlet’s conflict between emotion and reason to the stage. I could tell you about how urgent a production this is, how gripping and driven and tangled it is with all those competing ambitions. I could tell you how unexpectedly funny it is in its wittiest moments, and how tickled you’ll be once you realize you recognize some of Belmont’s own professors in the cast, if you’re familiar with our theater department.

I could tell you about how, even though I’ve read Hamlet countless times from middle school to college, as someone who knows some of those lines by heart (I’ve written on them! Multiple times!), I still felt tears threatening to spill by the end of the play.

But that’s beside the point.

The real point is that I know, that as college students or even as graduates, it’s rough to find the money to go to see Shakespeare live. Live theatre is, understandably-and-still-sadly, not cheap.

However, the NSF has graciously provided a little way to make that less of an obstacle, with their volunteer opportunities. Volunteering only requires a little bit more of your time, and most volunteer work is incredibly simple. I personally ushered for Hamlet last Thursday, which only involves saying hello and pointing out seats. Nothing complicated required. In exchange for that, the NSF allows ushers and other volunteers to watch the entire production for free. Besides, who doesn’t feel at least a little bit of curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes? Since most volunteers do have to come to productions a little bit earlier than the audience, there’s no telling what you might catch: actors warming up, a few last-minute discussions, and the like.

Somebody has to help the teeming masses, and this way, people can still support the company – and the arts in general.  All you need to do is email their Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@nashvilleshakes.org. Not to mention, if you’re still attending Belmont and need community service convo credit, you can find NSF volunteer opportunities through MyBelmont’s Get Connected page. That way, you get to see a play and get credit for it, too. Thanks to the NSF and Belmont, seeing a play doesn’t have to be a tragedy for you or your wallet.

Victoria Pan is a Junior English Major.