Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
Looking for free theatre? Explore the fun at Shakespeare Festival’s annual play in Forest Park.
A jealous man, an accused wife, a community torn apart by conflict, a secret plot to mend broken hearts and love somehow enduring: An episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? No, it’s Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.
For the past 12 years, the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis has offered the tragic, funny stories of William Shakespeare to the public for free. This year’s production of The Winter’s Tale begins as the heartbreaking tale of Leontes, King of Sicilia, who accuses his pregnant wife Hermione of an adulterous affair with longtime friend Polixeness, King of Bohemia. Hearts are broken, tragedy ensues, and the kingdom is forever changed.
The second half of the story takes place in Bohemia where the survivors live and love, hidden identities are revealed and the characters finally find redemption and forgiveness.
The Festival’s mission is to celebrate the works of Shakespeare by bringing his plays to the public, free of charge and in a variety of venues. The Forest Park production includes a variety of fun family-friendly events such as the Green Show every evening at 6:30 p.m., with local entertainers and the Nightly Bard’s Buzz that summarizes the characters and story line of the play. Craft activities for kids and food vendors make for a party-like atmosphere before the show, and audiences are invited to bring picnics, blankets and chairs.
On Friday evenings at 7:15 p.m., Shakespeare Squadron, the Festival’s training program for young actors, performs a snack-size version of the play and 20-minute backstage tours begin at 6:30 p.m. each evening.
In addition to the Forest Park production, the Festival also creates theatrical events in the streets and schools. This year’s production of ONE CITY marks Shakespeare in the Streets’ sixth year of plays dedicated to and about areas of St. Louis. ONE CITY, which asks St. Louis residents from all neighborhoods to consider what it means to be a St. Louisan today, is a city-wide celebration that opens in September with performance locations to be announced soon.
Every year the Festival also offers Camp Shakespeare, full-day workshops for kids aged 11 to 18. Experienced Festival teaching artists guide campers in voice, movement, stage combat and physical comedy activities. Camp Shakespeare also offers a technical camp designed to help young people learn about production and design.
The Missouri Humanities Council has awarded the Festival numerous awards for its contributions: “Best Theatre Company,” “Most Innovative Arts Organization,” and Exemplary Community Achievement. In January 2015, the Festival received the Arts and Education Council’s Excellence in the Arts Award.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis aims for more than just high-quality entertainment. Its goal is to promote and enrich the arts in St. Louis: “Our work seeks to better the community, facilitate a diverse conversation, and encourage collaboration across disciplines.”
The Winter’s Tale runs from June 2 to June 25 with performances every night at 8:00 p.m. except for Tuesdays and is located at Shakespeare Glen, across from the Art Museum in Forest Park. For more information, contact Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis.
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