The Illinois Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 season offers remarkable variety, including a Shakespearean comedy and history, a hip-hop adaptation, and a contemporary sequel written in verse. “What better way to celebrate Shakespeare than offer contemporary poetic plays alongside his own?” said festival Artistic Director Kevin Rich.
The festival runs July 3 through August 8 at Ewing Cultural Center in Bloomington, with two-for-one ticket preview performances June 30 through July 2. Tickets are on sale now for $12 to $47 and group discounts are available. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 866-IL-SHAKE. For more information on this summer’s productions and tickets, visit www.thefestival.org.
The season opens Friday, July 3, with Shakespeare’s comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Curt Tofteland, founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars. This production, as well as the other two outdoor productions, will feature $20 onstage “groundling” seating, which makes for hilarious audience interaction.
On Sunday, July 18, a world premiere sequel, Love’s Labor’s Won, will open in Westhoff Theatre on the Illinois State University campus. Playwright Scott Kaiser imagines the young men in Love’s Labour’s Lost returned from war quite changed, and weaves in many Shakespearean themes in this funny and touching sequel. Both plays will feature the same actors and are set on either side of World War I, with jazz and ragtime music composed and performed by local musician Glenn Wilson.
Opening on July 4 is the latest offering by international sensation the Q Brothers. Q Gents is a hysterical two-person adaptation of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, set in a modern-day college football town. Q Gents is written, directed, and performed by the Q Brothers themselves, who mesmerized Chicago audiences with their sold-out smash hit, A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol.
Shakespeare’s often-requested history play, Richard II, opens on Sunday, July 5. Spoiled by fortune and more poet than monarch, when Richard loses his power, does he gain something greater? Robert Quinlan directs this lyrical, profound, and moving production, which will feature Illinois Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Kevin Rich in the title role.
Festival patrons can picnic on the Ewing Cultural Center grounds prior to performances, enjoying family-friendly, free green shows, and live music. The Improvised Shakespeare Company will perform improvised, hour-long Shakespearean productions at 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Patrons can also attend free Theatre for Young Audiences productions of As You Like It at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.