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Our Cornerstone: Four Shakespeare Productions In 2023

Photo: A scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2011. (Photo by Karl Hugh.)
Photo: A scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2011. (Photo by Karl Hugh.)

By Liz Armstrong

“It’s a season to stimulate minds and hearts in ways in which only Shakespeare can.” - Derek Charles Livingston 

The first season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 1962 featured three of Shakespeare’s plays. With his works as our cornerstone, each season that followed produced the same number. Thirty years later, 1992’s season was the first time a fourth Shakespeare play was added. Since then the number of the Bard’s works has always fluctuated between three or four on our stages.

Let’s take a look at what Shakespeare productions have been chosen for the upcoming 2023 season, as well as what Interim Managing Director Michael Bahr and Interim Artistic Director Derek Charles Livingston have to say about them. 

Bahr noted that this season is keeping the flame alive that founder Fred C. Adams lit long ago, “full of bright, resonant, and connective productions that share relatable themes to today.”

“This season affirms the Festival’s strong commitment to Shakespeare’s work, both the popular and lesser known plays,” Bahr said. “This is why we have lasted for 62 years, because of our commitment to produce Shakespeare’s timely work for today’s audiences!”

Livingston added to the statement, encouraging patrons to attend the productions. 

“Our choices this year provide our audiences a great opportunity to see how Shakespeare could brilliantly take various theme and create masterful works,” Livingston said. 

Shakespeare’s Works in the Festival’s 2023 Season

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Englestad Shakespeare Theatre 

June 22 – September 9, 2023 

Directed by Jessica Kubzansky

This luxurious tale of fairies, dreams, and moonlight is Shakespeare’s most popular comedy. “The course of true love never did run smooth” and when the feuding king and queen of the fairies interfere in the mercurial romances of mortals, the result is magical mayhem. Leave it to the roguish Puck, impish fairies, young lovers, and bumbling would-be actors to create pure pandemonium!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream reveals the humor, antics, and ultimately, love that exists in a world filled with magic and hope,” Livingston said. 

Romeo and Juliet

Englestad Shakespeare Theatre 

June 21 – September 8, 2023

Directed by Betsy Mugavero

A timeless tale of “star-cross’d lovers,” Romeo and Juliet tells how two young people rise above their families’ hatred and find love. The price is tragic, and its lesson is what makes this one of Shakespeare’s best-known, most-loved, and more-enduring tragedies.

Romeo and Juliet dramatizes the perils of young lovers’ passion that strives to persist in an animosity-filled world,” Livingston said. 


Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre 

July 15 – October 7, 2023 

Directed by Lisa Peterson

An arrogant, proud, and hot-headed military hero, Coriolanus is seduced by the notion of becoming Rome’s ruler, but he must go among the “commoners” he disdains to win their votes.  His loathing becomes public, and the people drive this skilled general from Rome and into allegiance with a sworn enemy. Coriolanus now threatens to attack those whom he sought to rule. This rarely produced play’s themes of ambition, love, family, and power will crackle in our intimate Anes Theatre.

“Coriolanus reveals how a man’s misanthropy is his fatal flaw,” Livingston said. 

Timon of Athens

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre 

July 14 – October 7, 2023

Directed by Lisa Peterson

Timon’s compulsive generosity makes him the most popular man in Athens. The people flatter and praise him, all the while accepting his gifts. Timon is everyone’s best friend—until his wealth is suddenly gone. Destitute and disillusioned with so-called friends who have abandoned him, he turns his back on the world. A play for our times, Timon of Athens is hilarious, satiric, and deeply moving as it explores friendship, wealth, and the foibles of a materialistic society.

Timon of Athens shows the pitfalls of a man who loves his fellow humans too deeply,” Livingston said. 

Bahr described the productions as a “kaleidoscope of choices.” 

“This year we have a Shakespeare feast: a brilliant buffet of compelling plays for every palette,” Bahr said. “We get to dive deep into the fun, frivolity, pathos, and passion all within the same year."

Contrasting with three other popular and profound productions this season––Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, The Play That Goes Wrong, and A Raisin in the Sun––Bahr noted that Shakespeare’s plays will provide social commentary in ways that only the Bard can.  

To purchase tickets, go to bard.org/plays or call 800-PLAYTIX.

What's On

Much Ado About Nothing

June 21 - October 5, 2024

Randall L. Jones Theatre

The Taming of the Shrew

June 19 - September 7, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

The 39 Steps

June 22 - October 5, 2024

Randall L. Jones Theatre

Henry VIII

June 17 - September 5, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

The Winter's Tale

June 18 - September 6, 2024

Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

RADA Production

July 30-August 3, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

The Mountaintop

July 13 - October 5, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

Silent Sky

July 12 - October 5, 2024

Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

© Utah Shakespeare Festival 2024 www.bard.org Cedar City, Utah