Alexis Baigue (left) as Bottom and Marla Lefler as Titania in the Festival’s 2017 touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Alexis Baigue (left) as Bottom and Marla Lefler as Titania in the Festival’s 2017 touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

The Utah Shakespeare Festival recently received word that it has been awarded two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. It received an Art Works grant totaling $20,000 to help fund the world premiere of Neil LaBute’s How to Fight Loneliness and a $25,000 Shakespeare in American Communities grant to help with the creation of the Festival’s Shakespeare-in-the-Schools 2018 touring production of The Tempest.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous support provided by the National Endowment of the Arts,” said Artistic Director Brian Vaughn upon hearing of the awards. “Both of these productions are vital ingredients in our continued efforts to celebrate classic and contemporary writers and the tremendous impact each can have on our collective culture.”

How to Fight Loneliness was workshopped at the Festival last fall as part of its new play development program Words3 (Words Cubed). Since that time it has been refined and prepared for its world premiere opening on August 26 at the Festival.

In the application for the grant, David Ivers, former artistic director and director of the play, said “We are most keenly interested in how this play . . . speaks to other classic works in our season. . . . It’s a spellbinding three-character play that’s provocative, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. Mr. LaBute pulls no punches here and demands we all take a look at very specific and potent moments in our lives as they careen with the larger looming questions of existence.”

The Shakespeare in American Communities grant is administered by Arts Midwest in partnership with the NEA. The grant will help the Festival touring production (which also includes optional workshops) travel for fourteen weeks to schools, community centers, and correctional facilities in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona—to over 120 schools.

“Without the support from the National Endowment for the Arts, these projects would potentially be shelved and an entire generation of playgoer potentially lost,” said Vaughn. “We are thrilled at the recognition and the unique opportunity this assistance provides.”

 “The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the Utah Shakespeare Festival in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”

Tickets are now on sale for the Festival’s 56th season, which will run from June 29 to October 21. The plays are Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Shakespeare in Love, Guys and Dolls, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Treasure Island, The Tavern, How to Fight Loneliness, and William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged). For more information and tickets visit www.bard.org or call 1-800-PLAYTIX. For information about the fundraising gala on July 14, call 435-586-7880.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, which also includes the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA).