BOZEMAN — Montana Shakespeare in the Schools enters its 25th season in 2017 with a tour of “Twelfth Night” to regional middle and high schools. Several public performances will also be offered.
MSIS will perform the comedy to nearly 12,000 students in communities throughout Montana and Wyoming as a part of its annual fall tour, which began Oct. 6.
The 10-week tour is the first of two educational outreach programs offered during the academic year by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, which is based at Montana State University. The fall tour will conclude in mid-December. Montana Shakes!, a tour designed specifically for elementary school children, will tour from late February to mid-May.
To accommodate schools’ scheduling needs, productions are trimmed to 80 minutes. Tailor-made workshops that relate back to the play accompany the production.
Kevin Asselin, executive artistic director of Montana Shakespeare in the Schools, said the goal of the troupe is to bring live, professional performances of Shakespeare’s plays to middle and high schools across Montana and Wyoming, emphasizing rural, underserved areas.
“Shakespeare in the Schools is one of the only programs in the country to reach as extensively into rural areas, bringing Shakespeare the way it was meant to be experienced, in a live performance,” Asselin said.
Chicago-based Marti Lyons is directing the production. Lyons has directed for Actors Theatre of Louisville, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lookingglass Theatre Company and Writers’ Theatre, among others.
“‘Twelfth Night’ is a comedy, but a comedy that bursts forth from a deep sadness,” Lyons said. “In this world, like in our world, love and joy can grow in the midst of sorrow and longing.”
The professional eight-member cast who make up the touring company have been chosen from national auditions. They rehearsed for three weeks in Bozeman before presenting the play to 49 middle and high schools in Montana and Wyoming.
Montana Shakespeare in the Schools began in 1993 with two professional actors performing scenes from Shakespeare’s plays with minimal costumes and scenery. It has grown to include an eight-member professional company that offers a full Shakespearean production complete with rich, originally designed costumes and scenery, as well as a talk-back session and a full complement of workshops.
Special performances, open to the public, will be held in Buffalo, Wyoming; Fishtail; Dillon; and Bozeman. For more information on these performances, visit Montana Shakespeare in the Schools’ website.
Montana Shakespeare in the Schools is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities. Additional support comes from the Montana Arts Council: Artists in Schools and Communities and Montana Cultural Trust; the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation; the Sidney E. Frank Foundation; the First Interstate Bank Foundation; the First Security Bank Foundation; and the Applied Materials Foundation, along with generous individual donors.
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks is an outreach program of The MSU College of Arts and Architecture.
For more information about Shakespeare in the Schools, visit the website at http://www.shakespeareintheparks.org or call 406-994-3303.
Shakespeare in the Schools 2017 tour: “Twelfth Night”
Nov. 9 – University of Montana Western, Dillon
Nov. 10 – Gallatin County Homeschool Group, Bozeman
Nov. 13 – Plains High School, Plains
Nov. 14 – West Valley Middle School, Kalispell
Nov. 15 – Kalispell Middle School, Kalispell
Nov. 16 – Columbia Falls High School, Columbia Falls
Nov. 17 – Columbia Falls High School, Columbia Falls
Nov. 18 – The Ellen Theater, Bozeman (public performance)
Nov. 20 – Polson High School, Polson
Nov. 21 – Petra Academy, Bozeman
Nov. 22 – Shields Valley High School, Clyde Park
Nov. 27 – Belt High School, Belt
Nov. 28 – Power School, Power
Nov. 29 – Simms High School, Simms
Nov. 30 – Ronan High School, Ronan
Dec. 1 – Florence-Carlton High School, Florence
Dec. 4 – Frenchtown High School, Frenchtown
Dec. 5 – Alberton High School, Alberton
Dec. 6 – Loyola/St. Joes High School, Missoula
Dec. 7 – Ennis High School, Ennis
Dec. 8 – Lone Peak High School, Big Sky
Dec. 11 – Corvallis High School, Corvallis
Dec. 12 – Sentinel High School, Missoula
Dec. 13 – Whitehall High School, Whitehall
Dec. 14 – Chief Joseph Middle School, Bozeman
Dec. 15 – Manhattan High School, Manhattan