The main stage productions are only the beginning of the festivities for the 40th season of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF). The festival runs from June 30 through August 12, with the new Improv Tuesdays beginning July 11 at 6 p.m.
The Improvised Shakespeare Company is back for a fifth summer by popular demand. Chicago’s “best improv group” (Chicago Reader) creates a fully improvised Shakespearean masterpiece each night based upon audience suggestions. Nothing is planned out, rehearsed, or written. All of the dialogue is spontaneous, as are the characters and the story. Performances are on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., July 11, 18, and 25, and August 1 and 8. Tickets are only $16 and can be purchased at IllinoisShakes.com/Plays/Improv.
Accompanying the comedic Improvised Shakespeare Company on Tuesday nights is baritone saxophonist Glenn Wilson and his friends. The festival favorite is celebrating their 10th season playing jazz in the courtyard of Ewing Manor. Wilson has toured and recorded with Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Doc Severinsen, Bruce Hornsby, and many other jazz and music greats in his 45-year career. Performances are on the Ewing courtyard stage from 6–7 p.m., July 11, 18, and 25, and August 1 and 8. The Glenn Wilson and Friends jazz series is funded by the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation through the nonprofit Further Jazz Inc.
For patrons picnicking on the grounds before and during the Glenn Wilson and Friends performance, new snacks, beer, and wine are being offered. ISF is partnering with White Oak Brewing, a brewery based in Normal, to create ShakesBeer ISF, a bold English ale. Prepared specifically for the 40the celebration, this festival ale will be modeled after the traditional English mild ale.
Tickets are available at Illinois State 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.