Alumni Return For 40th Year Of Shakespeare At Winedale (Watch)

For 40 blazing Texas summers, they’ve laughed, fought, acted, and sweated together in this barn. University of Texas students have been coming to an old farm outside Winedale (population 40) for Shakespeare summer camp since 1970.

This month, as the legendary Shakespeare at Winedale program celebrated four decades since its founding, alumni of the program reunited to perform scenes from favorite plays.

It was a lovely scene as the August sun set: alumni sat down to barbecue together at picnic tables under live oak trees. Musicians in period costume strolled around. Student actors from this year’s program got ready to put on Twelfth Night. And the program’s founder, English professor James B. “Doc” Ayres, greeted many of the hundreds whose education he enriched over the years.

The scene was so nice that the Texas Exes’ alumni magazine, The Alcalde, sent a videographer to film what could best be shown through spoken words and moving images.

That videographer, San Antonio native Erika Brekke, used to see plays at Winedale every summer. Her mother, Idalia Clark, BA ’72,was in the very first group of Winedalers in 1970.

Clark’s background in performing and storytelling were still apparent as she stepped onto the stage after a show, gesturing grandly as she told how it all began.

There was no Elizabethan stage as now, she said — the actors would throw open the loft doors and see the stars. Curious locals would come watch, laughing or staying silent (if the acting went well) at all the right parts.

“Things happened in this barn that didn’t happen anywhere else,” she said. “It was almost like a temple.”

For two weeks that first summer, the students ate, fought, exercised, and played together. They stayed in the old farmhouse, now torn down — girls upstairs, guys downstairs. They had a fire, and some guys played guitars. None of them wanted to go to sleep until they absolutely had to.

“Camaraderie doesn’t begin to encompass what it was,” Clark said.

Brekke didn’t interview her mom in the video — too contrived for a mother and daughter — but their family’s love for a special UT institution shows through. Watch and see.





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