Wednesday, October 5, 2011

No Off-Season for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival

We all think of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival as a summer phenomenon, but it turns out they stay pretty busy the rest of the year.

First, the ISF has announced their slate for next summer, with "As You Like It," 'Othello" and "The Comedy of Errors" from Shakespeare, along with Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "The Rivals." I remember seeing "The Rivals" back in 1990 at the Festival, and it was absolutely wonderful. I suppose that's why I still remember it! I am guessing that one of the three Shakespeare plays will be the "theater for young audiences" choice, performed as a shorter version on the Ewing Manor grounds during the day, rather than on the main-stage at night. My guess would be "The Comedy of Errors" since that one is listed last on the Illinois Shakespeare Festival site. We'll just have to wait and see if I'm right on that one! Tickets will be available after January 9th, 2012, and performances next summer are scheduled from June 28 to August 11. (If you don't want to wait to buy tickets in January, or if you'd like to give a little Shakespeare for Christmas, you can get a gift certificate now. You are advised to call the box office at 309-438-2535 for more information.

In the meantime, you can help support Milestones Early Learning Center and the West Bloomington Revitalization Project by attending a joint fundraiser for those two groups on Friday, October 7, from 5 to 8 pm at the BlueLine (602 N Main Street in downtown Bloomington). Tickets are $10 at the door and admission includes five "tastes" of wines personally chosen by the BlueLine owners. A basket from the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (with Platinum Plus seating and dinner packed inside) will be one of the items available in a silent auction. Here's your chance to help out two worthy organizations and score tickets and dinner at the ISF as well.

And if you are a teacher or otherwise connected to an area school that could benefit from a little Shakespeare, you'll want to know about the "Shakespeare Alive! Outreach Tours," available to tour to schools from October to December. This year, the choices are "To Thine Own Self Be True," billed as "a montage of scenes, stories, and monologues that interweaves true socially relevant stories with Shakespeare’s work," intended for junior high or high schoolers, or "Fortune's Fool," subtitled "Folly & More," which involves a game show, a Jersey Girls' explanation of "Romeo and Juliet," and something or other about Pyramus and Thisbe, all included in this "zany introduction to Shakespeare's work," intended for kids in elementary school or junior high. If either show sounds like something that would work at your school, call 309-438-8697 for more information.


  1. I would love to see "The Rivals" anytime. That's the play that gives us Mrs. Malaprop!

    I'm sure as can be that you are right about "Comedy of Errors" being the choice for young audiences. It's the shortest of the Shakespeare plays -- uncut, it plays well under 2 hours, and it doesn't take much trimming to get it down to about an hour. The Old Vic did that when they were committed to doing "The First Folio in 5 Years" in the 50s. They took care of two plays at once by doing "Titus Andronicus" cut to 90 minutes, then after intermission"C of Errors" cut to an hour... all in the format of a traveling Elizabethan troupe of actors doing its double-bill in an inn courtyard.

  2. Plus I realized after I wrote this piece that a) "As You Like It" was their "theater for young audiences" choice last summer, and b) "Othello" is unlikely to be chosen for that purpose. Although a rival high school *did* do "Othello" for what we called "contest play" (45 min. max, set portable enough to move by bus or truck to the places interscholastic competition takes you, and suitable for an audience of high school students and judges who aren't going to like anything too adult, if you know what I mean) back in the 70s. We were doing "Animal Farm" and "Alice in Wonderland" at my school.

    So, yes, I feel about 90% sure that the TYA play will be "Comedy of Errors."

    In a side note, I have noticed before that this year's "theater for young audiences" play shows up on next year's schedule. I wouldn't be surprised if "Comedy of Errors" is in the 2013 main-stage season.