Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Garden Party! Friday at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival

It's opening night for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival production of "Othello" Friday the 29th. That's exciting enough, but the ISF is also hosting a special reception before the show.

This Garden Party (and if you've been to Ewing Manor, you know exactly how lovely their gardens are) begins at 6 pm on Friday night. The festivities include wine, lots of hors d'oeuvres that we are told are bountiful enough to qualify as dinner, plus some special silent auction items that were still being put together as I write this. But I heard mention of some seriously cool items that you won't get at any other silent auction. That's if, of course, it all comes together as is being planned right this very minute.

Tickets are $75 and they include a premium ticket with VIP parking privileges to "Othello" on the 29th or a voucher for another night of your choice.

So, yes, $75 is more than you would normally spend for a ticket to the Festival, but it comes with food and wine and maybe even a chance to take home some special Illinois Shakespeare Festival-themed items, plus a performance of "Othello" directed by former Festival Artistic Director John Sipes and starring Daver Morrison and Amanda Catania. And you get to go home with the good feeling of having contributed to this fundraiser for a very worthy cause -- keeping us all supplied with more Shakespeare.

Current Artistic Director Deb Alley has indicated that this "Othello" will keep the Renaissance setting it was born with, as Othello the Moor, a great and powerful general, finds himself eaten alive with jealousy over his beautiful Italian bride, Desdemona. There is betrayal here, but it comes from Othello's aide, Iago, who plots against his general and against Cassio, the new lieutenant named in what Iago feels should be his place. So Iago tries to make Othello believe that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio, both to get rid of Cassio and to drive Othello insane.

Let's just say that Iago's plot, with its machinations involving ladies-in-waiting and handkerchiefs, succeeds quite well, driving a bulldozer right through the center of Othello's and Desdemona's lives. He's a wicked man, that Iago, and one of Shakespeare's most memorable characters.

You can see all that drama AND eat your fill of tasty treats, drink a little wine, and enjoy the beauty of Ewing Manor, all for $75. It's a wonderful way to start (or continue) your summer theatrical season.

Click here to read about the Garden Party night and make plans for more Shakespeare at Ewing manor. And, as always, find out more about all of this at

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