One Book kicks off with Shakespeare

The March 15 kickoff of Monroe’s One Book, One Community program will feature a presentation of Shakespeare in the Meyer Theater.

The novel chosen for 2017, “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel, is set in a post-apocalyptic Michigan. It features a troupe of Shakespearean actors and musicians struggling to do more than just survive in a world dramatically altered by a flu-like pandemic.

“Survival is insufficient,” is the troupe’s credo.

The actors and musicians move from community to community along the shores of the Great Lakes, performing to people whose lives have been turned upside down. 

It is ultimately an exploration of how people preserve the qualities that make us human – culture, art and the humanities — even when survival is challenged.

Mandel, who lives in New York, is a critically acclaimed author of four novels. Station Eleven, her most recent novel, was a finalist for a National Book

Award and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Toronto Book Award. 

Station Eleven also was chosen for the Great Michigan Read, a statewide discussion project in 300 communities sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council. 

Other events during the month-long One Book, One Community project include films, speakers, a panel discussion, an art project, a culinary buffet and discussion groups. 

The theater group performing at the March 15 kickoff is the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Co., based in Grand Haven, Mich. The group will present a program specifically tailored to Mandel’s  Station Eleven novel. 

Mandel attended a performance of the program last year and commented on it in a review of her experience touring Michigan during the Great Michigan Read.

“I sat onstage in a state of awe and delight while the players of the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company performed a medley of scenes from Lear, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet,” she wrote.

“The traveling company in Station Eleven performs all three plays, although I excised the latter two from the final draft for the sake of narrative velocity. Pigeon Creek is Michigan’s only full-time touring Shakespeare company. They are dazzlingly good.”