This article appears in the May 2011 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
Front Pages: Doug Schutte
Doug Schutte is founder and co-owner of The Bard’s Town restaurant/theater/lounge, which opened last fall in the Highlands. Since then, it has hosted numerous performances, from groups like the InKY Reading Series and Project Improv to open-mike hopefuls and emerging musicians. Schutte’s theater background includes serving as executive director of the Kentucky Theatre Association, working as a Treadwell Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, and teaching Englishandtheatre arts at the University of Louisville and Saint Xavier High School. His most recent stage play, Chasing Ophelia, was a semi-finalist for the National Arts Club New Play Award in 2010 and will debut at The Bard’s Town this May. But the biggest challenge of opening and managing a new restaurant and performance space? “I expected to sleep some,” he says. “Not a lot, but some.”
Book that has most guided your personal outlook or belief system: Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Once I was introduced to the works of Campbell, I never looked at anything the same again. Campbell made me realize that I have always been obsessed with myth, and that I always will be.
Book you are reading now: About every two years I reread The Last Temptation of Christ. For some unknown reason, that book fascinates me. I’m also reading a collection of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard essays. His wit and the way he sees things is just fascinating, more so than our other Founding Fathers.
Book you plan to read next: Dante’s Inferno. I have an Italian version, and the Italian language coupled with terza rima is, in my humble opinion, perfection. Of course, I’ll spend more time with my Italian-English dictionary than with the poem, but it should be fun.
Book you’d recommend to a friend to take along on vacation:RandyPausch’s The Last Lecture. Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. There might be some tears shed here and there, which doesn’t seem very vacation-friendly, but I can’t think of another book that so completely re-awakens the soul — perfect for a vacation recharge.
Favorite book or author when you were (about) 21: At 21 I was obsessed with the Harlem Renaissance writers. There was something about the spirit with which they wrote that completely captivated me. Of those, I delved most into Langston Hughes. His poetry has a basic, pure quality to it that spoke, and still speaks, as “truth” to me.
Great book you know you ought to have read but never have: Just about all of the Victorian novels. Pride and Prejudice comes to mind. I know I should read more Dickens, Bronte sisters, James and so on . . . but they utterly bore me.
Favorite book from childhood: Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, which are retold prose versions for children. I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house growing up, and she had that book. I was probably nine or 10 when I first laid eyes on it. Needless to say, I was hooked.
Book you think ought to be required reading for high school: Homer’s Iliad, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury should definitely be on a “must" list. I think books that explore identity and myth are perfect, and critical, for teenagers.
And, for the owner of a restaurant called “The Bard’s Town”: your favorite Shakespeare play? Seriously, that’s like asking a parent who his or her favorite child is. There is something I love about each and every one. If I had to choose, I would go with King Lear. That first scene has got to be one of the best stage scenes in history, and watching Lear transform from a man of might to a feeble bystander is so powerful.