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Illinois Shakespeare Festival announces world premiere adaptations for 2019 season

Ewing Manor in spring.

Illinois State University's Ewing Manor in spring

Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF) Artistic Director John C. Stark announced plans for the 2019 season at the annual ISF season announcement event October 29 at the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts Theatre. The festival will run June 28 through August 10, 2019.

Inspired by Stark’s theme of “a fresh look at classic stories,” the 42nd season will feature world premiere adaptions of three well-known favorites: As You Like ItPride and Prejudice, and Caesar.

The 2019 season will open Friday, June 28, with Shakespeare’s comedy, As You Like It, adapted and directed by Associate Artistic Director Robert Quinlan. The production will be set in the early 20th century and include original music composed by Jordan Coughtry, the most recent ISF actor named to the ISF “Actor Honor Role.”

In this joyful comedy, Rosalind and Orlando fall in love at first sight, but are forced to flee the dangers of the court. Disguised as a young man, Rosalind teaches clumsy Orlando the way to a woman’s heart—hers, to be exact. The young lovers escape to the forest of Arden and delight in luscious nature, love, life, companionship, and song … until Fortune makes everything right again.

Last year’s Merry Wives of Windsor director, Deanna Jent, will return in 2019 to direct her adaptation of the timeless classic Pride and Prejudice. Life was pleasantly drab for Elizabeth Bennet until the haughty (though admittedly handsome) Mr. Darcy barged in on her life. Now she’s caught in a dilemma: Can Elizabeth be true to her feelings while also standing up to Darcy’s arrogance? This lively adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel persuades us that even the worst first impressions can be overcome.

Adapted and directed by Quetta Carpenter, Caesar is a contemporary take on the tragedy. Carpenter has been as a recurring face on the ISF stage, appearing in both the 2015 and 2018 season. Julius Caesar’s days are numbered in this media-saturated, modern take on Shakespeare’s classic tragedy. With Caesar’s assassins in one camp and the inheritors of his authority on the other, political warfare consumes Rome—fought through social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Who will survive in the end, and will they still be themselves?

As You Like It and Pride and Prejudice will be performed at the Ewing Theatre, on the grounds of the most beautiful venue for Shakespeare, the Ewing Cultural Center. Caesar will be performed on the Illinois State University campus, in the air-conditioned comfort of the Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) Theatre.

Season tickets are now on sale for 33 percent off the regular ticket price. This early bird discount is available now through February 28, 2019, with season ticket packages ranging from $40–$110. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit IllinoisShakes.com or call the CPA Box Office at (309) 438-2535, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Founded in 1978, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival is the professional theater at Illinois State University’s College of Fine Arts.

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