Cedar City, UT – Scholars and lovers of Shakespeare will be traveling this summer from England to America to study why Shakespeare is so popular here, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival is on their list of places to visit July 17 – 19.
A team from the University of Warwick and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which is based in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, will visit the Festival as part of a 60-day road trip visiting 14 Shakespeare-related theatre festivals across America. The team will fly to Kansas City on July 4 and hit the road from there, building up a picture of how Shakespeare is being performed and celebrated across the United States during the 450th birthday of Shakespeare in 2014.
Each festival with be given a commemorative plaque to mark the visit, and the project team will give presentations about their work and the work of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity that cares for the five Shakespeare family homes in Stratford-upon-Avon and promotes the appreciation of Shakespeare worldwide. The festivals will be invited to deposit material in the trust’s archives to create a permanent record of their activities. Regular updates on the visit will be blogged during the 60-day road trip. Rev. Dr. Paul Edmondson, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s head of research and knowledge, and Dr. Paul Prescott, associate professor at the University of Warwick, will also compile a book about their experiences.
Edmondson said, ”For centuries America has topped the list of nations flocking to visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. Americans were the first to sign our oldest surviving visitors’ book at Shakespeare’s Birthplace back in 1812, and now we welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors from the USA every year. Shakespeare on the Road is a reverse pilgrimage, to record and salute the troupes and groups who keep Shakespeare’s genius burning brightly across America.”
Prescott added, “The amount of Shakespearean theatre-making in America dwarfs that of any other country, the UK included. Every summer, from sea to shining sea – and at all points in between – from spit-and-sawdust performances in local parks to slick professional productions in reconstructed Elizabethan playhouses, the Bard busts out all over the USA. This trip will take the pulse of Shakespeare in America over the course of one remarkable summer in 2014 and is a perfect way of celebrating his enduring popularity and the 450th anniversary of his birth.”
"The Utah Shakespeare Festival is excited to be a part of this amazing study being undertaken by the University of Warwick and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust,” said Festival Executive Director R. Scott Phillips. “We are anxious for them to meet our guests and artists to discover what makes the Festival so unique. We have such a loyal and discerning audience base which recognizes that language and story telling is at the heart of everything we do. Chronicling the love affair that America has with master William Shakespeare is astounding and to have it being done by our friends from the UK is even more astonishing."
Tickets are on sale for the Festival’s 53rd season, which will run from June 23 to October 18, 2014. The eight-play season includes Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, Henry IV Part One, and Twelfth Night. The season will also include the world premiere adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility written by Joseph Hanreddy and J. R. Sullivan, Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, and Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti. For more information and tickets visit www.bard.org or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.