Saturday, April 21, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Shakespeare Theatre
IF YOU GO ...
WHERE: Reed Whipple Cultural Center, at 821 Las Vegas Blvd. North
WHEN: All day Monday, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
To read, or not to read? That was the easy question bus driver Anthony Brady answered when he was asked to take part in a 24-hour reading in honor of William Shakespeare’s 448th birthday.
“This is my first time doing Shakespeare,” said the energetic 54-year-old, who is used to passionately reeling off eloquent lines from “Hamlet” in front of a mirror.
“‘What is a man? If his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more,’” Brady recites from the fourth act of “Hamlet” while gesturing gracefully.
Brady will take the stage Monday during the valley’s first Bard-a-thon to celebrate the famed playwright’s birthday and the opening of the Las Vegas Shakespeare Theatre, formerly known as the Reed Whipple Cultural Center, at 821 Las Vegas Blvd. North.
“We’re going to throw the switch on the lights Monday,” said Dan Decker, director for the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company. “We thought Shakespeare’s birthday would be the right day to do it.”
Monday’s public event starts at 12:01 a.m. and runs until 11:59 p.m. Community members of all skill levels are encouraged to find a place onstage or a seat in the audience.
Readers can pick what plays and parts to read or draw randomly from a hat, Decker said. The company’s goal is to get 100 readers for the event; as of Friday, about 50 had signed up.
“This appeals to people who just love Shakespeare,” Decker said. “It was always about bringing the community in the door.”
Though walk-ins are welcome, Decker recommends signing up before Monday to guarantee a spot. Readers can stay for as long as they like.
“If Romeo has to leave in the middle of the play, we’ll get a new Romeo,” Decker said.
Along with the continuous reading, various workshops and film screenings will be set up in the 35,000-square-foot theater complex located near Cashman Center. Snacks will be on sale during the event.
“I imagine by the end of the day the theater will look like a war zone,” Decker said.
Planning to join in Shakespearian chaos are various community groups.
Decker said several teams, including a veterans group and Cirque du Soleil performers, have expressed an interest in reading a play.
The Cirque performers may arrive around midnight, at the beginning of the event, Decker said. Brady will join the festivities at about 6:30 p.m., after his work shift ends.
“I’m going straight into a pot of boiling water,” said Brady, who finds excitement in not knowing the Shakespeare lines he will read.
“I live to read ‘Othello.’ That’s the most powerful African-American piece,” Brady said.
For Brady, it doesn’t matter a person’s race or background — anyone can read Shakespeare’s poetry, which often sends shivers down the spine.
“When I saw Denzel (Washington) do ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ I thought maybe there’s an avenue,” Brady said. “I recognized the ability of multi-ethnics doing Shakespeare.”
Recently, Brady was overheard singing while helping his passengers on the Regional Transportation Commission paratransit bus, which serves people with various impairments or who are dependent on a wheelchair or scooter.
“He’s definitely an artist,” said Kimm Schwert, who rides paratransit because of a disability known as dwarfism.
Schwert said her disability has never stopped her from doing what she’s wanted to do — including theater. She’ll be participating in Monday’s event.
Schwert noticed Brady’s extroverted personality and soon discovered they shared a love for Shakespeare’s plays and poetry.
“I didn’t think we had that in common,” said Schwert, an administrative assistant and actor with the company.
Though Brady has never been in a production, he hopes to continue to stay involved in the local company.
“I would like to do Shakespeare on a full-time basis, but it doesn’t pay the bills,” said Brady, a bus driver of four years.
The local company does an annual Shakespeare in the Park production in October. About 15,000 to 20,000 people attended the production, which is hosted on various days and locations throughout the month. This year the company will perform “Hamlet.”
“Shakespeare is the ultimate,” Brady said. “It’s so present every day. You have to take a look at it and say, ‘Dang.’”
People interested in participating in Monday’s Bard-a-thon should contact Kimm Schwert at email@example.com or 220-5872.
For more information on the Bard-a-thon and other Las Vegas Shakespeare Company productions, visit lvshakes.org.