Little Theatre of Alexandria Dedicates Its Splendid Shakespeare Garden

 By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor

William Shakespeare’s image embedded in the garden

Photo by Sara Dudley Brown

Last evening the Little Theatre of Alexandria officially dedicated its lovely Shakespeare Garden featuring not only flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and attractive benches, but bricks with interesting attributions donated by LTA actors, backstage crew, board and council members, as well as local citizens who chose to honor a family member, a loved one, or themselves.

A few of the inscribed bricks which helped fund the Shakespeare Garden

Photo by Sara Dudley Brown

In case you don’t know the background of this historic theatre, here’s a quick review: The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA) began in 1934 in a blacksmith’s shop between Lee and Fairfax Streets, where volunteers built sets and sewed costumes.  LTA’s early productions were presented on the second floor of Gatsby’s Tavern and were mostly concerned with life in the 18th Century.  In the 1950’s they leased the property at the corner of St. Asaph and Wolfe Streets, eventually buying the lot, building the theatre, and opening with their first play “Send Me No Flowers” in 1961.  Many illustrious personages have been spotted over the years in LTA’s audiences including President Harry S. Truman, and President George W. Bush, who ventured over to see his sister-in-law perform in Neil Simon’s “Proposals.”

Flowers from Shakespeare’s time in the garden

Photo by Sara Dudley Brown

Yesterday, a large crowd of well-wishers was on hand for the delightful reception in the sunny, handsome Little Theatre of Alexandria Council Green Room. Carolyn Winters, Council Director and Past President of The Little Theatre of Alexandria, welcomed everyone to the dedication.  Tina Anderson, Council Vice Director, opened the proceedings by introducing Heather Sanderson, play director of “The Little Theatre’s Young Shakespearean Players.”

Carolyn Winter starting off the evening’s proceedings
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown

Ms. Sanderson set up three scenes from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,’ and “A  Midsummer Night’s Dream” which the students performed engagingly for us.  All of the young people were bright-faced and extremely well trained, able to remember long speeches, while looking cool and prepared for anything!  They wore Shakespearean costumes which were beautifully constructed and evocative of their roles, and, in the tiny space allotted to them, used inventive props to their very best advantage.  See the pictures below!

Scene from “Romeo and Juliet”
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
Scene from “Hamlet”
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
Scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
Scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
Scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown

Joe Haggerty, President and CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, explained that he was standing in for Mayor Allison Silberberg, who had been called away on urgent city business. Then Lloyd Bittinger, LTA President, after explaining the “Buy a Brick Campaign” to raise the funds for the garden, joined with Joe Haggerty and Carolyn Winters and officially cut the yellow ribbon with gigantic scissors. The exuberant crowd flowed out into the warm summer evening to enjoy the fragrant Shakespeare Garden.

Lloyd Bittinger, Tina Anderson, Joe Haggerty enjoying the reception
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
Ribbon Cutting by Lloyd Bittinger, Carolyn Winters, and Joe Haggerty
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
The Little Theatre’s Young Shakespearean Players
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
Guests enjoying the beautiful Shakespeare Garden
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown
Guests enjoying the beautiful Shakespeare Garden
Photo by Sara Dudley Brown