Festivities make it a festival, more than Shakespeare productions offered at Illinois Shakespeare Festival
Tickets are now on sale for the 40th season of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF), featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline at Ewing Theatre. The third production, I Heart Juliet, at Westhoff Theatre is already sold out. The festival runs from June 30 through Aug. 12, with half-price preview performances on June 28 and 29.
Every performance night, before the Ewing Theatre’s mainstage show, there is a “green show” performance. These short entertainments originated on the Ewing lawn, hence the name. From mini performances of Comedy of Errors to live pre-show music, the ISF green shows help the festival thrive.
Three of ISF’s company actors (Madeline Calais, Hannelore Rolfing, and Libby Zabit) will perform an all-female, abridged version of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors as a green show in the Ewing Manor courtyard. Performances of Comedy of Errors will take place at 6:30 p.m. directly preceding performances of Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline. For a full production calendar, visit IllinoisShakes.com/Plays/Cymbeline.
Members of the Midsummer cast will perform live music before each production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the green show. These relaxed performances are sure to delight as patrons are provided closer access to this season’s company members. Performances will take place during the 30 minutes directly preceding performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For a full production calendar, visit IllinoisShakes.com/Plays/Midsummer-Nights-Dream.
Families can once again enjoy the free Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) production. This season’s play is Sleeping Beauty, written by Stacey Lane and directed by Enrico Spada. Performances begin on July 12 and run every Wednesday and Saturday at 10 a.m. through Aug. 12. All performances of Sleeping Beauty on Wednesday mornings will take place at the Ewing Theatre, located at the corner of Emerson Street and Towanda Avenue. All performances of Sleeping Beauty on Saturday mornings will take place at the Connie Link Amphitheatre, located at 621 South Linden Street. The Town of Normal is this year’s TYA production sponsor.
Patrons may also take a backstage tour of Ewing Theatre before selected performances. Attendees have the opportunity to glimpse the extraordinary theatre while they learn about the scene and costume design process from first production meeting to final product that they will see on the stage. The tour is approximately 30 minutes and begins in the courtyard ticket office at 6 p.m. The tour capacity is 25 people and patrons are encouraged to book their tour in advance by calling the box office at (309) 438-2535. The cost of the backstage tour is $10 per person.
Following every Wednesday night performance, ISF will host a post-show talk back and a free ice cream social. Festival attendees can join members of the cast and staff after any Wednesday night performance. Local favorite, Carl’s Ice Cream, will serve up their special ice cream. Ice cream socials are sponsored by Craig Sutter.
For patrons picnicking on the grounds prior to and during the green shows and live music, new snacks, beer, and wine are being offered. ISF is partnering with White Oak Brewery, a brewery based in Normal, Illinois, to create ShakesBeer ISF, a refreshing British Ale. Prepared specifically for the 40th celebration, this festival brew is modeled after the traditional English Mild Ale. A food truck will be on site at Ewing Manor most evenings for patrons to purchase food between 5 and 7 p.m.
Tickets are available at Illinois States University’s Center for Performing Arts box office Monday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m. or by calling (309) 438-2535 during box office hours. Tickets can also be purchased online by visiting IllinoisShakes.com/Tickets. Single ticket prices range from $12-$49.
About the Illinois Shakespeare Festival
The Illinois Shakespeare Festival is a professional Shakespearean festival that is a part of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University. The Festival is increasingly recognized nationally as a resident company of artists producing a rotating repertory season of Shakespeare plays and new works in the spirit of Shakespeare performed during the summer months on the grounds of the Ewing Cultural Center.