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Affordable and Fun Performances and Education for All Ages Put on by Shakespeare Dallas

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Shakespeare Dallas has long performed in the North Dallas area putting on various classic and more modern versions of plays written by the venerable English playwright known as William Shakespeare. The nonprofit company, modeled after the Public Theater in New York's Shakespeare in the Park, has come a long way from their very first production in 1971- a one-man version of Hamlet.

After 45 years, the company today is multifaceted with three programs. Shakespeare in the Park does two outdoor productions each summer and a third touring show in the fall. Jenni Stewart, Program and Operations Director, tells us about the fall show, "We perform that one [show] for two weeks at our home park in east Dallas, and then we move the entire production up to Addison Circle Park and perform two weeks there as well."

Shakespeare Unplugged is an outlet for Shakespeare, as well as other playwrights. They have a five-year partnership with AT&T Performing Arts Center. It is here, Stewart says, that we are doing Shakespeare's entire canon in staged reading form.

"We also just premiered a new play called The King's Face through WaterTower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival," Stewart mentions. The King's Face, written by Steven Young who is also a frequent actor in their park productions, is a historical fiction play about King Henry V's early days as a prince. This summer their version of Richard III has a sexy rock-star vibe in a modernized creation.

To reach a younger audience, there is an educational component known as Shakespeare on the Go! Says Stewart about this program for grades 2 through 12, "We craft two- to four-person performances for elementary-, middle-, and high-school students and take those on tour into schools throughout the area." They also have summer camps and student performances done under the direction of a professional Shakespeare Dallas artist-educator.

For those who want to be a more directly involved in Shakespeare Dallas productions, general auditions are held in January. Stewart urges actresses and actors to check their website and social media pages in December for exact audition information.

Seeing the importance of making their shows economical so everyone can enjoy Shakespeare, tickets are only $10 on weeknights and $15 on weekends. Children ages 12 and younger and military and their families always get in for free. Stewart explains the pricing structure, "One of my favorite aspects of this company is that we strive to make Shakespeare affordable and accessible to the community. A third of our performances are donation-based pay-what-you-can nights, where we distribute thousands of free tickets to recreation centers across the city."

"We want to make going to the theater a fun and rewarding experience," Stewart insists. The outdoor programs make Shakespeare accessible to all ages and economic ranges. Stewart continues, "People can bring picnics, they can wear shorts with absolutely no judgement (it is summer in Dallas, after all!) and children are encouraged to attend."

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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