I spoke with Lizabeth Sunday morning as she was bouncing back from an exciting night of theater at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City, located in the southwestern portion of Utah.
Enter the world of Shakespeare...
She’d just seen the world-premier of “Great Expectations: A New Musical” based on the novel by Charles Dickens and directed by Jules Aaron–and eagerly described both the work and the “greenshow” that preceeded it.
Greenshows consist of pre-show entertainment including song and dance performed on a green surrounding one of the festival theaters. Lizabeth shared that she was looking forward to Sunday evening’s show featuring Scottish and Irish performers.
The Utah Shakespearean Festival makes for a fun family getaway. Once you make the drive to Las Vegas, you’re just two and a half hours away from Cedar City and all that the festival has to offer–including performances, greenshows, play orientations and a host of seminars (literary, props, costumes and actors).
The Bard certainly makes for a beautiful bust
Our own Shakepearean gem, the Southwest Shakespeare Company based in Mesa, opens their 2010-2011 season with “Blood Royal” on Sept. 9. It’s an original adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” trilogy by Michael Flachmann, directed by Jared Sakren.
But you needn’t wait that long to enjoy the best of the Bard.
Current offerings at the Utah Shakespearean Festival include three works by William Shakespeare, including “Much Ado About Nothing” directed by B. J. Jones, “The Merchant of Venice” directed by Sharon Ott and “Macbeth” directed by Joe Hanreddy.
Lizabeth has a theory that everything done in theater post-Shakespeare is a variation on a theme of sorts. I’m ill equipped to support or counter her case considering that I haven’t yet read his complete works or seen nearly enough of it performed on stage.
Do all roads follow from Shakespeare?
I’ll be hitting the festival myself before too long to up my “B.Q.”–my “Bard quotient.” Still, Lizabeth’s knowledge will likely surpass mine for an eternity.
She’s enjoyed “Shakespeare Collision” classes with Childsplay in Tempe since she was in grade school and studied with Randy Messersmith (co-founder and former artistic director of the Southwest Shakespeare Company, who serves as artistic director for theatre arts at Scottsdale Community College).
She’s also trained for several years with Maren Mascarelli (former company member of both the Utah Shakespearean Festival and the Southwest Shakespeare Company), and attended/competed in prior Utah Shakespearean Festivals with fellow theater majors at Arizona School for the Arts.
This summer, she’s attending a few of the festival’s summer programs–which includes seeing a wide variety of productions. Other shows currently playing at the festival include Alfred Hitchcock’s “39 Steps” directed by Eli Simon and an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” directed by Kathleen F. Conlin.
Your child may blossom after a bit of time with the Bard
Once you’ve had your fun with summer movies from “Eclipse” and “Despicable Me” to “The Sorcerer’s Apprectice” and “Standing Ovation,” consider a road trip to Cedar City that’ll give your kids a taste of what theater is like outside the four walls of a cineplex.
The Utah Shakespearean Festival is a grand getaway fit for everything from a weekend escape from the heat to a longer stay to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or family reunion.
The festival runs through October 23, with later shows to include Shakespeare’s “The Adventures of Pericles” directed by Kathleen F. Conlin as well as two other works.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (directed by Paul Barned) begins in mid-September, as does “Greater Tuna” by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard (directed by Brian Vaughn).
Make this your family's season of Shakespeare
There’s way too much going on at the festival for me to cover it all here, so your best bet is to jump online for details or call to request a Winter 2010 season brochure.
It’s got the rundown on the festival’s new playwrights project, backstage tours, educational offerings, membership opportunities and more. Even lodging, child care and pet-related details are covered.
And don’t forget to support the Shakespearean craft right here at home through our own Southwest Shakespeare Company. They’ll present four Shakespearean works this season, along with Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
They also offer seminars, performances for students, pre-show workshops, post-show discussions, show guides for teachers and more.
So go on, treat yourself to some Shakespeare–there and here.
Note: Visit the Southwest Shakespeare Company website to learn about Target field trip grants that can help students enjoy live theater performance. Applications will be available online at www.target.com starting Aug. 1.
Coming up: Valley venues presenting new theater works
Photos (top to bottom): Shakespeare Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Shakespeare bust in the McAshan Herb Gardens, Shakespeare Garden at Vassar College, Shakespeare Garden in NYC’s Central Park, Children’s book titled “Bard of Avon”