The Blackfriar’s Theater in Staunton draws thousands of people each year to see the plays of Shakespeare, but one man stands out as a kind of superfan.
Peter Weimann and his wife drove 550 miles from their home in Woodstock, Connecticut for their annual binge on the bard. They’ll take in eight plays in eight days. It’s something Weimann has long enjoyed.
“I taught high school English for 33 years," he says. "I fell in love with Shakespeare when I was a freshman in high school.”
He loved the language – and the characters.
“These people are real," he concluded. "I could see people in my class taking on those roles or feeling those emotions.”
And now he loves seeing how different actors play familiar roles. He sits in the audience with his program, keeping score.
“Inside we have all of the actors and all of their roles," he explains. "I sit there and I make little coded marks myself as the performances go on.”
And when the curtain falls on the last show of his visit, Weimann will write postcards to each of the actors, offering his assessment of their performance. A purist when it comes to Shakespeare, he gives the Blackfriar’s five stars.
“They are actually following the lines that exist," Weimann says. "They haven’t excised this scene and that scene and shuffled things around, which happens a great deal at other theaters.”
So how does it feel sitting through so much Shakespeare?
“I’m never burned out," he says with a smile. " I already know what next year’s performances are. We already have our tickets.”
He’s also checked with local libraries to see which plays can be borrowed, gone to Amazon to purchase others and searched for recorded plays and films. As soon as he gets home, Weimann says, he’ll start preparing for next year.