The Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF) announces three plays for the 2018 summer season, one to be staged at the Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) Theatre on the campus of Illinois State University, as well as a new performance schedule format. The 2018 season will begin on July 5 at its home theatre, the open-air Ewing Theatre, and run through August 10.
The three plays will include The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V, and Shakespeare In Love. Each production will open during the first three weeks of the Festival, starting with Merry Wives of Windsor July 5 – 7, followed by Henry V from July 12-14, both at the Ewing Theatre. Shakespeare in Love will begin performance July 19-22 at the CPA Theatre. Except for two performances of Merry Wives on July 17 and 18, a rotating repertory schedule, the tradition at ISF, will commence on July 24 and run through August 10.
According to Artistic Director John Stark, “I wanted to open the Festival with a pure comedy, and Merry Wives is certainly that. As for Henry V, it is time we did one of Shakespeare’s history plays, and this is one of my favorites. Merry Wives was last performed in 2010, and Henry V in 2007. Finally, I wanted to continue the idea of a new or newer play in the spirit of the Bard, and Shakespeare In Love embodies that, literally. It gives us a play that is a romance at its heart, along with a fictionalized history lesson and much laughter.”
About the use of the CPA Theatre, Stark said, “Performing one of our three shows inside this fine theatre space addresses two of our biggest challenges with the Ewing space. First, artistically we have use of lighting and other stage effects that are just not possible with an outdoor venue. Our patrons had a taste of those full production values when we did I Heart Juliet at the Westhoff Theatre last summer. Secondly, we will be able to do matinees for the first time, attracting new groups, and not have to worry about the rain cancelling a show.”
Managing Director, Bill Prenevost, addressed the changes to the performance schedule, “It gives our actors and production staff a week to focus primarily on one play at a time just before opening, and then at least three public performances to solidify each show. There is also an advantage for our season ticket holders who can have the same seat for all three plays on the same day over three consecutive weeks. The next three weeks offer rotating rep to maximize the number of three day “getaway packages” for out-of-town patrons.”
Season tickets ranging from $40 to $109 for all three plays are now available online at ISF’s website. Group sales are available by calling the Box Office at the CPA at (309) 438-2535. Single tickets for individual shows will go on sale in March 2018. For more information, visit IllinoisShakes.com.
The Illinois Shakespeare Festival is the professional theatre in residence at Illinois State University, founded in 1978 by Cal Pritner. The Festival operates under a collective bargaining contract with the three major theatrical unions as a member of the University Resident Theatre Association (URTA).