The Missouri Shakespeare Festival is once again returning to the four-state region. From June 23 till 28, students and faculty members from Missouri Southern State University will be staging a production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the Bud Walton Theatre on campus.
Suspected of being the last play written solely by Shakespeare, The Tempest follows Prospero, the overthrown Duke of Milan, who shipwrecks his usurping brother and the King of Naples, among others, on an island in an attempt to exact revenge.
The festival, which began three years ago with a production of Macbeth, began as a way to introduce members of the four-state region to the Bard’s work, says theatre department chair Jim Lile.
“One of our stated goals is to try to take the fear out,” said Lile. “Some people are still scared of Shakespeare and we hope that we’re creating productions that are entertaining and enjoyable and that people will discover that Shakespeare is really not that scary after all.”
New to the festival this year is the casting of guest performers from around the country made possible by the Missouri Arts Council. Matt Campbell, assistant professor of theatre/music theatre at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin; Stephanie Harter Gilmore, who just stepped off a national tour of Joe DiPietro’s Nice Work If You Can Get It; and Chicago-based actor Carlos Olmedo will be acting alongside performers from Missouri Southern.
“We’re delighted that they were able to come and work with us this summer. They’ve added a great energy to what we’re doing.”
In addition to the Shakespeare Festival, the theatre department will also be holding the Summer Shakespeare Academy June 22-26, where area high school and middle school students will be given the opportunity to learn Shakespearean language, performance and stage fighting from the cast and crew of The Tempest.
“It’s kind of a weeklong Shakespeare immersion,” said Lile. “They get to study the language a little bit, but they also will be doing scenes so they get some acting lessons as well. It’s a physical thing and a mental thing and just a lot of fun.”
The academy will be held at the Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School from 9 a.m. till noon each day with a camp performance held at 12:30 p.m. June 26. Cost for the academy is $150, which includes all materials and a camp T-shirt. To register, visit www.tjeffschool.org or call 417-625-9656.
“The Shakespeare festival is for the region,” said Lile. “We want the region to think of it that way. It’s a way that we can work together and do something that’s kind of entertaining and fun.”