The Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City has a lot to shout about. This year they were the recipients of the coveted Tony Award for Americas
Outstanding Regional Theatre. Now they werent awarded the Tony for the
production of a specific play, but for the entire festival. And that
distinction is important. Because there is a very big difference between a
play written by William Shakespeare and a Shakespearean Festival.
Julianne Palma, Director, Greenshow ... Going to a Shakespeare Festival you
are going to be immersed in the world of Old England.
And the Utah Shakespearean Festival does that better than anyone else. In
order to get you more involved in the plays there are a number of free events
for you to attend. Early in the day you can go on a backstage tour. Here
youll get a chance to see what goes into making the festival work. Its a
rare opportunity not afforded to patrons of a normal theatre. Not that
theres anything normal about the Adams theatre where the Shakespeare
plays are performed. Its an open-air venue fashioned after the original
Globe theatre where the Shakespeare plays were initially presented.
The morning after the performance you can gather with other members of the
audience to discuss the play at the Grove Seminar. A Shakespeare academician
moderates the group and more often than not a member of the cast will come
out to join in the conversation. If youre new to Shakespeare this forum is
the best introduction youll ever get, short of taking a college course on
But what really makes this festival so different from going to a Shakespeare
play is the Greenshow directed by Julianne Palma.
Julianne Palma, Director, Greenshow ... A Greenshow is a show that begins
before the evening's play, out on the grass. It's juggling, it's singing,
it's dancing, its storytelling, it relaxes you, it takes you away from the
modern-day world and allows you to immerse yourself in the world of
Shakespeare. It gets you ready to hear the language. This festival is so
unique because of the Greenshow. There are other festivals that have
Greenshows but not on the scope that we'd do. We have three different stages,
each stage has something different going on at all times for the 45 minutes
before the play. On Welsh night we have a harpist, and then on the bigger
stage we have the singing and the dancing and on another stage we have
fights. And on Scottish night we of Highland Games. There isn't another
festival that has a Greenshow on this scale.
To someone who has never been to the festival before it sounds a little
daunting. Three different stages, each night featuring pastiche from three
different countries. It just sounds like a lot of work to take it all in. But
in fact its quite relaxing. There is no set structure to the Greenshow, so
you can wander in and out of the performances without worrying about plot
lines or dialogue. Its really about
atmosphere. The intent of the
performances is to make you feel at home. The idea is for the surroundings to
be so natural that youll forget about the world you came from and slide
gently into the world of Shakespeare. But as natural as it appears to be this
world comes from a lot of hard work.
Julianne Palma ... The actors rehearse eight hours every single day six days
a week. They have dialect classes they have dance rehearsal they have music
rehearsal, stage combat and then we begin to put the shows together out of
those training sessions. They get a lot of training here.
David Bert ... So the people we see in the Greenshow of this year we may see
on stage in a couple more years?
Julianne Palma ... You will definitely see them on the stage.
The Utah Shakespearean Festival is the perfect summer getaway for anyone
living in Las Vegas. With all the natural beauty of Utah, and the cultural
significance of a Tony award winning theatre youll want to come back again
and again. And youll need to. Because there are so many things to do and see
here that itll take years for you to fit it all in. Remember, this isnt
just a play written by Shakespeare. Because of components like the Greenshow,
the Utah Shakespearean Festival is an adventure.
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