With the emergence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF) announced last spring that the 2020 season (including The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), Macbeth, Measure for Measure, and One Man, Two Guvnors) would be postponed to summer 2021. While the Festival is actively planning productions for summer 2021, it is now known that transferring the original season in its entirety will no longer be possible.
In partnership with state, local, and Illinois State University officials, ISF leadership is diligently working on a comprehensive plan that will ensure the health and safety of both patrons and the entire ISF company before all other considerations. ISF Managing Director Derek R. Munson emphasized: “We want our patrons to feel safe. We want them to know that we are putting safety first.” Adjustments and considerations for next summer include limited seating capacity and physical distancing at the performance spaces, a smaller company, and a slightly condensed season of performances. “Our goal is to present a season that doesn’t look all that different from past seasons. The most obvious difference our patrons will notice is a much smaller audience,” said Munson.
ISF will continue to honor all season tickets that were transferred from this past summer to 2021 and, once the new season is announced, will work directly with season ticket holders to ensure satisfaction. Due to new limits on audience size and the unpredictability of scheduling, ISF will not sell new season ticket packages for 2021, however individual tickets will still be available at a later date.
“Producing during a pandemic is unlike anything I, or my associates at the University, have ever done,” said Munson. “I feel incredibly fortunate that we have the support and leadership of everyone at Illinois State University and the School of Theatre and Dance.”
Artistic Director John C. Stark reflected on this past summer: “What I missed most about the festival were the moments when I would linger outside of Ewing Theatre while a show was being performed. I would register the reactions of the audience by the laughter, the gasps, and the guffaws. The electricity passing from stage to audience and back again.”
Over the next few months, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival will share the 2021 season announcement and schedule of performances. “As we finalize our 2021 production season, I’m reminded of the magic that is ever part of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival experience,” said Stark. “No matter what show is on the bill, you can count on beautiful grounds to explore, an expansive lawn to picnic on, and a star-filled sky filled with the poetry of Shakespeare.”