Educational Tour Hits the Road
The Utah Shakespeare Festival is once again hitting the road with its Shakespeare-in-the-Schools touring production—this year performing the magical story of A Midsummer Night*’s Dream*.
The tour will be performing 65 shows for over 120 schools and 25,000 students throughout the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The cast and crew will be on the road for 14 weeks from January through April to bring this classic comedy to schools, community centers, and correctional facilities. Students will have the chance to watch the show and then participate in a post-show discussion and workshops in Stage Combat, Performing Shakespeare’s Text, Technical Theatre and Developing Character through Improvisation.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will premiere on January 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Randall L. Jones Theatre. General admission tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Festival ticket office at 800-PLAYTIX (800-752-9849) or online at www.bard.org. Tickets purchased ahead of time will be available at will call in the Randall L. Jones Theatre. On the night of the performance, only cash and checks will be accepted at the Randall Theatre door, whereas credit and debit cards will be accepted at the main ticket office next to the Anes Theatre. Admission is free for SUU students.
Britannia Howe is returning to the Festival as the director for the tour this year. She was inspired by the imagination of this famous play and said that each performance, “starts with an individual on stage opening up a book. Everything is text-driven, and it’s literally page to stage.” From the costumes to the First Folio in the background, the text is coming to life in this rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Because it’s one of their first touchstones to Shakespeare for many students, Midsummer is so great because it talks about imagination, dreaming and magic,” said Howe.
“I hope that the audience is able to see the power that the written word has and how Shakespeare is timeless and versatile, and that story-telling is transcendent,” she continued.
Howe is a graduate of Southern Utah University and has worked for the Cabaret Theatre, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and the Innovative View Theatre Company. The tour has ten members in its traveling company, and they have come from all around the country to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
There are some familiar faces this season who have performed with the Festival before. Alexis Baigue (Demetrius/Bottom) acted last year in Henry V and Much Ado about Nothing. Brandon Burk (Lysander/Flute/Cobweb) began working with the Festival in 2015 and in 2016 performed in Much Ado about Nothing, Henry V, and The Three Musketeers. Luke Sidney Johnson (Theseus/Oberon) has previously worked for the Festival in the 2015 and 2016 summer seasons. Karen Thorla (Egeus/Helena/Snug/Mustardseed) worked with the Festival for the 2016 season in Julius Caesar.
The other actors in the cast have brought their talents to A Midsummer Night’s Dream from many different theatres and productions across the country. Madison Kisst (Puck) has worked with Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, and others. Mara Lefler (Hippolyta/Titania) has appeared at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indiana Festival Theatre, Salt Lake Shakespeare, and PCPA. Stephanie Resnick (Hermia/Quince/Peaseblossom) has worked with Great River Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada, and TITAN Theatre Company.
The three crew members on the tour are returning to the Festival to make Shakespeare-in-the-Schools possible this year. Elizabeth Marquis (Technical Director) has returned to the Festival from recent work as master electrician/automation engineer at Gateway Playhouse and Haunted Playhouse, Long Island. Miriam Michaels (Stage Manager) worked last fall on Julius Caesar and The Odd Couple. Devery North (Company Manager) has worked previously with the Festival for the 2015 season and the 2016 educational tour of Hamlet.
In addition to support from the Shakespeare for a New Generation program which is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, this tour’s school performance partners are the Utah State Office of Education: Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools, Mountain West Small Business Finance, Ally Bank, and Southern Utah University.
For more information, visit www.bard.org/tour.