Illinoi Shakespeare Festival Tickets

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From humble beginnings on a plain wooden stage to becoming a nationally revered annual celebration of one of the greatest dramatists, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival has come a long way since its debut in 1978. This year, the festival returns for its thirty sixth season. Perhaps the most fitting tribute for a genius such as Shakespeare, the festival is a way of keeping him relevant even today and making him accessible to the masses. The festival is managed by a group of dedicated thespians and theater experts who function as a full repertory company. The main aim of the festival is to re-imagine interpretations of theater as an attempt to understand the vast artistic prowess of Shakespeare and highlight his everlasting significance.


The festival will be divided into various sections. The primary section is the Main Stage that will host three plays, two by the great maestro himself, and another contemporary period piece that will help tie the two together. Special performances will include The Improvised Shakespeare Company and All's Well That Ends Well. Keeping in tune with their mission to make theater as accessible as possible, they will also be giving free shows which include the Glenn Wilson and Friends musical performance and the short, Shake, Shake, Shake your Shakespeare.


One of the plays selected for this year is Antony and Cleopatra. One of the most recognized plays by Shakespeare; it follows the love-sick Mark Antony as he pursues his heart's desire and neglects his country's needs for the intoxicating and exotic ruler of Egypt. Often hailed as one of the most complex and intriguing female personalities written by Shakespeare, Cleopatra is one of the most vivacious, impulsive and charismatic characters to date. Brought to life by Deborah Staples, this is one rendition of the iconic Queen of Egypt that is a must-see.


The second play being brought to life on stage for this year's festival is the well-known and hugely loved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. Tracing the lives of two pairs of lovers, the comedy provides just enough of a thrill to keep the audiences riveted to their seats and comedic relief is always offered where necessary. The play is an ode to some of the most widely disseminated themes in Shakespeare's words e.g. mistaken identity, deception and gender roles.


The third and final play that creates a connected trilogy, is the relatively new, Elizabeth Rex by Timothy Findely. The play is a period piece that follows Queen Elizabeth on the night before her lover, Earl of Essex, is destined to be executed for treason. She calls for Much Ado About Nothing to be performed for her as a distraction. Afterwards, she spends her time with Shakespeare and his company. During this time, she reads a play that Shakespeare has been working on; Antony and Cleopatra. Elizabeth Rex is the key to making this festival a period celebration of Shakespeare.


While applauded for their superb performances, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival is also known for going a step beyond to recreate the original theater dynamic. The art director for this season, Kevin Rich, is going the distance to create an experience that will be, perhaps, one of the most unforgettable theater experiences ever. With all three plays linking together at some level, the trilogy, of sorts, allows for the festival to become a well knot repertory. One of the characteristics of the festival this year is that they will be retracing their steps to original practices. Original practices refer to the way the productions of these plays were originally staged. There will be instances of direct access, the actors will be interactive with the audience members, including them in the execution of their lines, jokes and pivotal scenes and they will aim at enhancing the overall experience.


This Shakespearean extravaganza will play out at the Ewing Culture Center, where it first began its journey more than three decades ago. The outdoor seating coupled with the way the stage is in full access to the whole audience allows for a captivating experience. This is the ultimate opportunity for lovers of Shakespeare and theater enthusiasts to watch some of the most outstanding renditions of Shakespeare's works. Illinois Shakespeare Festival tickets are now available.


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