Those strolling the Atlantic City Boardwalk on Sunday night could expect to see any of the usual seaside staples.
There were cotton candy and hot dog vendors, rides flying high above the Steel Pier, drinks flowing at Margaritaville ... and Shakespeare.
A group of students and alumni from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's School of Arts and Humanities took a risk when they decided to see if the resort was ready to embrace 16th century culture.
Dressed in modern clothes, the group, joined by performers from community groups, traversed the Boardwalk for two hours performing Shakespearean scenes. The scenes ranged from just a few minutes to about 20.
"What we are trying to do is just get people to stop and experience some theater," said Dan Cerullo, a senior theater major who helped organize the event. "It doesn't matter if they stop for two minutes or two hours. If someone takes in some Shakespeare, then we have done our job."
Known as "The Bardwalk," a reference to William Shakespeare, the event is in its second year. Last year, the group performed in various spots throughout Cape May but decided to bring the event to Atlantic City this year. That decision reflected Stockton's growing presence in the city as well as recent initiatives by area organizations to increase the arts presence in the resort.
"Our main objective this summer is community outreach," said Cerullo, of Little Egg Harbor Township. "This event is great for the budding arts in Atlantic City and gives artists from around the area the chance to meet and work together."
Lane McLeod Jackson, who graduated from Stockton three years ago, was among the alumni who volunteered to be part of the event. Last year, the Wildwood resident performed with the group in Cape May, where strange looks from passersby who weren't expecting a performance were commonplace.
"If they know what to expect, then what's the point?" Jackson said.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has recently partnered with Stockton on a plan to open an art retail space on the first floor of the Wave parking garage this fall. The CRDA and the Atlantic City Alliance have also funded a number of art projects, including temporary art parks intended to beautify long vacant properties and create an arts presence in the city.
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