- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) - Each summer, the Shakespeare with Noodles youth theater troupe takes to the great outdoors to bring to life the works of William Shakespeare.

“We’re used to the heat,” troupe director Margaret Marsh told the Hastings Tribune (http://bit.ly/11KCE3E ). “We’ve been dealing with heat for years.”

The heat has never stopped the troupe, now in its fifth year, from introducing young thespians to the world of Shakespeare with the use of foam noodles as swords and other props. This summer, Marsh said, heat hasn’t even been a consideration for the outdoor troupe. It’s been the rain and dangerous thunderstorms that have forced the group, which typically practices at Chautauqua Park, to spend many afternoons practicing indoors.

“A lot of times if we have had any sort of rain, we just go to the pavilion and do our thing there,” Marsh said. “But when you’re talking severe thunderstorms with lightning, we just can’t even stay at the park.”

For the past four summers, the troupe has battled heat and wind in bringing their Shakespearean productions to life at Libs Park during Art in the Park or downtown at Kool-Aid Days.

“We’ve never even had a performance canceled because of rain,” Marsh said. “We’ve had some days where it was raining in the morning and I thought, ‘We’re not going to make it,’ but by the afternoon the sun would come out and it would dry up.”

Strong winds and dangerous lightning along with the threat of tornadoes make for a dangerous situation. On those days, Marsh has either moved practice indoors at Hastings College, a sponsor of Shakespeare with Noodles, or simply canceled the practice altogether.

“We cope with it best we can,” she said of the weather. “We’re hoping July will settle down a little more than June did.”

While there have been no close calls to speak of with the kids outdoors during a storm, the troupe did suffer a blow as a result of the Father’s Day storm. Marsh was out of town during the storm but received a call shortly after from a neighbor telling her that a tree had fallen on the truck.

“And that’s the truck we use to haul all of our equipment, props, sound. That’s our mobility,” Marsh said. None the troupe’s props or equipment was being stored in the truck. However, the truck was severely damaged, and with only liability insurance, fixing the truck wasn’t an option.

“That was a pretty good-size loss,” Marsh said. “We’re low-budget.”

That’s why Marsh started a campaign to raise money for the purchase of another truck, van or other vehicle to haul the troupe’s props and equipment.

“Right now, I have a Ford Focus and the seats are down in the back and I have wedged as much stuff in the vehicle as I possibly can, which limits my ability to carry any sort of passengers,” Marsh said. “Our hope is to get a truck or van in the next couple weeks.”

Marsh said the campaign is set to expire on Aug. 2, the date of the group’s first performance at Art in the Park. The group’s other two performances this summer are Aug. 9 at Kool-Aid Days and Aug. 16 in McCool Junction.

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Information from: Hastings Tribune, http://www.hastingstribune.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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