State award doesn’t throw Shakespeare Festival leader
Pedro Silva, at heart a professional actor, proved Thursday how difficult it is to knock him off script.
Managing director of the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Silva dressed as Ebenezer Scrooge to speak at a meeting of Rotary Club of High Point.
Before he could launch into his presentation about the festival and its weekend performances of “A Christmas Carol Unplugged,” he was surprised with a certificate of induction into The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
As a polite, if grumpy, Elizabethan man, Silva tipped his hat and bowed in thanks, then stayed in character as Scrooge to give his planned presentation. Only when Scooge finished speaking did Silva deliver a clever conceit to transition into himself.
“I’m speechless,” Silva said, before speaking about how moved he was by the award.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, presented by the governor since 1963 on behalf of The Long Leaf Pine Society, is designed to honor people with a proven record of service to the state. Chris Greene presented the certificate to Silva on behalf of N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory.
Silva is a perfect fit for the award, said Greene, who, in conjunction with her husband Charlie Greene, nominated Silva for the award. Both Greenes are longtime Shakespeare Festival supporters, board members and leaders.
In nominating Silva, Chris Greene especially was thinking of the “Shakespeare To Go” program, in which a small company of actors tours the state to present Shakespeare’s works to students.
“Pedro has done much for the arts in the performing arts area in the state by providing ‘Shakespeare To Go,’ which has been a huge contribution to our state’s public education,” she said. “I believe they have appeared in every county in North Carolina at some point, and to me, what they’ve done with that is just not something we can measure. It’s hard to believe the Shakespeare Festival has done that over the years.”
Silva has been with the Shakespeare Festival almost constantly since it was founded in 1977. He tried another profession (furniture sales) from 1993 to 2001 but was drawn back. He began as an actor in the premiere season, and he held several positions until he became managing director in 1983. Even while he performed administrative duties, he continued to periodically act and direct, as he will do this weekend. And he long has championed the Shakespeare Festival in the community.
“He has almost single-handedly kept the festival going,” Chris Greene said. “Pedro’s got vision and focus, and when you have both you can accomplish a lot.”
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