Shakespeare Festival St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' most recent Shakespeare in the Streets production, Blow, Winds, will be on stage this weekend at the Central branch of the St. Louis Public Library.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is one of the most prominent theater companies in town, yet it doesn’t own a stage.

The organization shares its various stages — Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park, local schools and even city streets — with the public. With programs like Shakespeare in the Streets, which tells a community’s story, that sharing comes with great responsibility.

A 3D rendering of the "Romeo and Juliet" stage.
Margery and Peter Spack

Neon lights and the colors of young love will brighten Forest Park over the next three weeks, when Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the bard's "Romeo and Juliet" for the first time since 2001.

The play runs June 1 through June 24 at 8 p.m. every night except Tuesdays. A prelude performance starts at 6:30 p.m. before each show. All performances are held on this year's outdoor stage in the Shakespeare Glen, near the St. Louis Art Museum.

The set this year mixes modern pop sensibilities with architectural features inspired by Verona, Italy, where the love story and tragedy play out. 

Tom Ridgely co-founded Waterwell theater company 15 years ago. The organization has developed and produced over a dozen world premieres and adaptations of classics. He began working with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in mid-May.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The new head of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is promising to put more women and minorities in leadership roles within the organization.

Incoming executive producer Tom Ridgely comes to St. Louis from New York, where he founded and directed Waterwell Theater, a company focused on presenting new works — and was committed to diversity — Ridgely said.

Elena Araoz and Tom Ridgely joined host Don Marsh to talk about this year's Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The tragedy of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet is a timeless tale and one of English playwright William Shakespeare’s most popular works.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is bringing the classic play back to Forest Park June 1 to 24.

Shakespeare Festival presented "Winter's Tale" as its 2017 mainstage production in Forest Park.
Shakespeare Festival

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has named Tom Ridgely of New York to fill the post of  executive producer, which includes both artistic and leadership roles.

Ridgley comes to St. Louis from New York City’s Waterwell theater company, which he founded in 2002. He replaces Rick Dildine, who headed Shakespeare Festival St. Louis for eight years.

September 12, 2017 photo. Shakespeare in the Streets' "Blow, Winds," inspired by "King Lear," is staged on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library, Central Library, downtown.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The cast and crew of this year’s Shakespeare in the Streets production worked for a year to bring its take on the Bard’s “King Lear” to the steps of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library, downtown.

But the Sept. 15 opening day of “Blow, Winds” coincided with another big event in St. Louis: Judge Timothy Wilson's non-guilty verdict in the murder case against Jason Stockley. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis canceled the weekend run amid protests against the verdict.

Theatergoers will have a chance to see it next summer. The festival plans to present “Blow, Winds” June 15-16, in connection with its annual event in Forest Park.

September 12, 2017 photo. Shakespeare in the Streets' "Blow, Winds," inspired by "King Lear," is staged on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library, Central Library, downtown.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

More than 1 million of us call the St. Louis area home.  But depending on whether you live in Affton, Ladue, Wellston or any other of the 90 municipalities — and where you went to high school — the experience varies widely.

A new play puts a Shakespearean spin on living in St. Louis. “Blow, Winds,” inspired by “King Lear,” is this year’s production of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ Shakespeare in the Streets.

File photo: Under the leadership of Rick Dildine, attendance at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has grown by 55 percent and contributed revenue has increased 38 percent.
Provided | Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The executive and artistic director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is resigning to take another job.

Rick Dildine will become artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival on Aug. 1.

Dildine, who joined the St. Louis organization in 2009, resigned once before, in 2014. He took a similar position in Lennox, Massachusetts and returned one year later.

A scene from Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' "The Winter's Tale," which opens on June 2.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

"Life can turn on a dime,” said Bruce Longworth, the director of this year’s Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production of “The Winter’s Tale,” which opens on June 2 and runs through June 25.

Considered one of William Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” because the subject matter falls neither neatly into the category of comedy or tragedy, Longworth, who is also associate artistic director of the festival, believes this play best emulates the reality of life.

Novice actor and video-rental entrepreneur Robert Koonce-Bey and artist Ilene Berman talk about the Shake38 play "A Day of Confusion" in this April 5 photo.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every April, the words of Shakespeare echo throughout St. Louis — not just in theaters, but in bars, coffee shops and local parks.

It’s all part of a five-day event called “Shake 38,”  presented by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. The schedule offers 38 different performances, based on the work of the Bard.

This file photo is a image from The Rep's production of "Follies," which kicked off its 50th season.
Provided | The Rep

Tales based on the Bard and a Stephen Sondheim musical about the glory days of show business were the top winners at the 2017 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis took home nine awards for work associated with the company, seven of them for the musical “Follies," including outstanding production of a musical and outstanding director. The wins topped off a year of celebrating the company's 50th season.

Actor Dan Kelly aims his gun, as a cop in "You Try It" by Neil LaBute, part of the "Every 28 Hours" theater collaboration. Actors Joel Beard, Noble Montgomery and Theresa Masters look on.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, in St. Louis or elsewhere, a black person shudders in fear after seeing a police officer approaching. Every day, a cop makes a lightning-quick decision that could mean life or death.

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 a 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.

PNC Bank, NEA give St. Louis arts groups thousands in grants

May 10, 2016
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.

Attendance drops for Shakespeare Fest due to rough weather

Jun 29, 2015
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.”

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