Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Meghan Baker and Michael James Reed play the husband and wife in "Love's Labor."
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation will take on new role this weekend — as the stage for an original play.

The Pulitzer and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis are teaming up to present a play called “Love’s Labor.”  The production weaves together words from the Bard and  modern-day language in a story about a couple on the brink of divorce.

Nancy Anderson as Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
J. David Levy | Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

It has been a bloody two summers in Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park.

“The past two years have been a lot of death on stage,” said Rick Dildine, artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. “There is a high body count. Henry IV, Henry V, Antony and Cleopatra … I wanted something that ended with marriage and happiness.”

Austin and Ryan Jacobs share the role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Tim Carter is with Ryan on the right. Carter plays the role of Oberan.
J. David Levy

“What fools these mortals be!” Puck famously utters in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

St. Louis audiences may be fooled in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' production that lets the spritely Puck be two places at once.  The secret?  Puck is played by identical twins, Austin and Ryan Jacobs, transplants from Houston.

The brothers, who just graduated from Webster University, join us for our latest Cut & Past podcast to talk about sharing the role in the play and a childhood on the stage. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens Friday in Forest Park.

David Gonsier as an owl and Levi Hernandez as Papageno in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2014 production of The Magic Flute.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Today was a good day for St. Louis arts organizations. PNC Bank’s Arts Alive funding initiative announced it will distribute $250,000 to nine local groups.  The National Endowment for the Arts also announced it would split $120,000 among three other groups.

The PNC funding will support innovative programming and improved accessibility to the arts. One recipient, the St. Louis Symphony, will use its $40,000 to create an app that teaches kids about classical instruments.

Rick Dildine and the new Schlafly 1616
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Schalfly Beer and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis announced Tuesday their plan to release a beer this spring right before the festival’s launch in June.

Shakespeare fan Tom Schlafly hatched the idea after speaking with Shakespeare Fest Executive Director Rick Dildine. When Dildine told Schlafly that 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Schlafly’s response was immediate.

Leverage Dance Theater on the House Stage at Shakespeare Festival in Forest Park
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Attendance was down by more than 10,000 people for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ performance of Antony and Cleopatra over last year's production. Artistic and Executive Director Rick Dildine says that’s the cost of doing business outdoors.

Leverage Dance Theater at Shakespeare Festival's House Stage
Nancy Fowler

Drama, passion and war are all part of this year’s Shakespeare Festival in Forest Park, as they have often been since 1997.

What’s new this summer is the addition of more local dancers, jazz artists, Latin musicians and a DJ (full list, below). You can see them on a new House Stage near the main stage, just prior to the production of the firey “Antony and Cleopatra.”

Cleopatra, left, and Antony, second from right, battle Rome and, at times, each other.
Provided by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The evening was crisp. Chairs and blankets were spread out as feasts appeared from baskets. On one hill, Juggling Jeff escaped from a straightjacket. On another, young players trod literal boards previewing what was to come. And in the second act was a tribute to a heroine and the performing arts in St. Louis in the summer: “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety.”

Alex Heuer

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis returns to Forest Park with the rarely performed “Antony and Cleopatra. Members of the company joined “Cityscape” guest host Don Marsh to discuss the production.

“Antony and Cleopatra” chronicles the love life of Mark Antony, one of three rulers of the Roman Empire, and Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, following the assassination of Julius Caesar.

Shirine Babb, an actor who plays the role of Cleopatra, said that in order to prepare for the role, she watched documentaries and read books about Cleopatra.

Rick Dildine
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Just months after leaving Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Rick Dildine is returning to his post of executive and artistic director.

Nancy Bell, left, is interviewed by Willis Ryder Arnold and Nancy Fowler.
Stephanie Zimmerman

Nancy Bell has enjoyed a thriving soap-opera career and nabbed top TV gigs including “Law and Order" and “Star Trek." So what's she doing in St. Louis, reworking the words of none other than Shakespeare?

It all started five years ago, when Saint Louis University lured Bell away from the big time, with a teaching job. Now, she's a regular player in the local theater scene.

St. Louis Symphony Music Director David Robertson announces 2015-2016 season
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Symphony will focus on the intersection of literature and classical music for its 2015-2016 season. St. Louis Symphony Music Director David Robertson said the story told through music can mimic that of a grand novel.

“What’s fun is when you make a concert program and you put several of these things together for the audience members in the concert, they actually hear a story that’s unique to them,” he said.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Roman leader Marcus Antonius of Rome and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt are perhaps history’s most famous lovers, a couple whose passion changed the course of history.

The third annual Shakespeare in the Streets starts Sept. 16.
Shakespeare in the Streets

Each Shakespeare in the Streets production starts the same way: Interviewing people in the community where the play will be performed.

“We never know what play we’re going to adapt; we never know what we’re going to find,” playwright Nancy Bell said. This is the third year for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis program.

“We find out why (residents) live there, why they came, why they left and what they want,” director Alec Wild said. This year, those interviews led to Clayton High School.

Rick Dildine
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Rick Dildine, who has expanded the scope of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in the five years that he has been in charge of it, is leaving. He will become executive director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis opened its 14th season Saturday in Forest Park. This year, there is an additional show to see. Instead of selecting one of the Bard’s 38 plays to perform in Shakespeare Glen, the festival has selected three: “Henry IV Part 1,” “Henry IV Part 2,” and “Henry V.” “Henry IV” has been adapted into one show for a total of two outdoor performances. Both shows are free to the public.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A businesswoman and a doctor, childhood friends, are torn apart by an imagined affair. There’s an L.A. party, a hit man, a bloody knife, an escape to Alabama, and finally, redemption. Sound like Shakespeare to you?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It was a dark and stormy night. Not in Forest Park -- puffy pink clouds and low 70s made this a perfect evening. But on the “Twelfth Night” stage. 

A ship capsizes. Twins Viola and Sebastian lose each other, each believing the other dies. After violent waters pull Viola to the shores of Illyria, she pretends to be a man, takes the name “Cesario” and enters into the employ of Duke Orsino.

Davy Levy

Each spring, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis transforms an area of Forest Park just east of Art Hill into an outdoor Shakespearean theatre and provides St. Louis audiences with an entire evening of activities related to one masterpiece by The Bard.  This year’s offering is Twelfth Night.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Does the fact that it’s season 13 bode well for for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ “Twelfth Night?”

We’ll know more after the play opens May 24 in Forest Park, but it’s already clear this year’s production is a lucky one for a local orchestra ensemble. Shakespeare Festival chose the oddly named “The Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra” to compose original music for the Shakespeare classic.

Wikimedia Commons

Each Spring, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis stages a play by the Bard in an area of Forest Park just east of the St. Louis Art Museum.  This year, the production is Twelfth Night which will run nightly except Tuesdays from May 24 through June 16. But before rehearsals for the main event even begin, the organization is active with pre-season offerings.

Source: Cyber Bullying Research Center, National Institute of Child Health, Autism Speaks, Gay and Lesbian Education Network

Brittany Jordan was a sophomore at Fort Zumwalt West High School when she was blindsided by bullies.

Browsing online, Jordan stumbled upon a MySpace page dedicated to her humiliation. The posts called her “fat,” “slut” and “skank.” “The world would be better off without you,” another read. She was horrified to see her face pasted above naked bodies. Then she saw something that hurt even more.

“Some of my friends were ‘friends’ with that page and they were ‘liking’ the pictures,” Jordan says.