Montana Shakespeare in the Parks returns with its 47th season from June 12th through September 3rd
From MSU News Service
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks will give free performances of Henry IV, Part I and The Merry Wives of Windsor this summer in communities in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.
The company will travel more than 7,000 miles during the season, which runs from June 12th through September 3rd, and perform in 61 communities. All performances, except the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman, are free and hosted in local parks and public spaces, making them accessible to all.
Kevin Asselin, executive artistic director, will direct Henry IV, Part I, while Chicago-based director Marti Lyons will direct The Merry Wives of Windsor. Lyons returns as guest director after having worked at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, The Actors Theatre of Louisville and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The 11 professional actors that will tour with the company were chosen out of a highly competitive pool at auditions in Bozeman, Chicago, Houston and Minneapolis.
Asselin said the recent centennial of World War I inspired him to set Henry IV, Part I in that era.
“The play has such a deep relationship with the true meaning of honor,” Asselin said. “Shakespeare gives us multiple viewpoints on what honor means to us as individuals. And it has a great relationship to Montana. If you look at the veteran population through the past 125 years, Montana leads the nation in terms of veterans per capita. I felt the connection would be exciting for us to explore.”
One of Shakespeare’s most popular characters, Falstaff, is featured prominently in both plays. The drunken knight is a foil to Prince Hal in Henry IV and is the catalyst for the comic action in Merry Wives. Returning actor Steve Peebles will play the role.
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks is an outreach program of Montana State University’s College of Arts and Architecture. Grants, corporate sponsorships and hundreds of individual donors support the free performance.
This year’s major sponsors include: the National Endowment for the Arts; ArtWorks; the Gilhousen Family Foundation; the Gianforte Family Foundation; Pheasant Farms; Spectec: Thunderbird International Corporation; the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Foundation; the Montana Arts Council; Barnard Construction; D.A. Davidson and Company; KBZK; ERA Landmark; Yellowstone Public Radio; and Sibayne-Stillwater.
Henry IV, Part I will run Wednesday through Saturday, June 12th–15th at 8pm each evening in the MSU Grove. The following Wed. through Sat., June 19th–22nd, The Merry Wives of Windsor will show at 8pm each night in the Grove.
Future Montana Shakespeare in the Parks area performances include: Henry IV in Big Timber’s Lions Club Park on July 7th at 6:30pm; Henry IV in Gardiner’s Arch Park on July 21st at 6pm; Merry Wives on the main lawn at Chico Hot Springs on July 22nd at 6pm; in Lindley Park during the Sweet Pea Festival – Henry IV on Aug. 2nd at 3:45pm and Merry Wives on Aug. 4th at 5pm; Henry IV in Townsend’s Heritage Park on Aug. 13th at 6pm; Merry Wives in Big Sky’s Town Center Park on Aug. 19th at 5:30pm; Henry IV in Livingston’s Shane Lalani Center’s parking lot on Aug. 31st at 6pm; Henry IV at Bozeman Family/Grad Housing on Sept. 1st at 3:30pm; and Merry Wives closing out the summer tour in Lewis & Clark Park, Belgrade, on Sept. 2nd at 3:30pm.
For more information on the plays and a complete tour schedule, visit www.shakespeareintheparks.org. •