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Audiences in 12 Wyoming communities will enjoy a “Shakespeare explosion” next March when University of Wyoming students -- directed by and performing in the style of the acclaimed Actors from the London Stage -- perform some of the bard’s outstanding plays during a statewide tour.
Wyoming PBS, in partnership with the UW Department of Theatre and Dance and Wyoming Public Media, has been awarded one of 10 grants to communities across the country to complement the broadcast of the second season of “Shakespeare Uncovered,” a new series on PBS.
The grant, awarded by WNET Education, a 24-hour public education channel in New York, as part of its National Community Outreach Initiative, provides $15,000 to support local productions of Shakespearean plays and face-to-face community events related to “Shakespeare Uncovered.”
Produced by Blakeway Productions, 116 Films and THIRTEEN in association with Shakespeare’s Globe, “Shakespeare Uncovered” explores and reveals the extraordinary world and works of William Shakespeare and the still-potent impact they have today. Each episode combines history, biography, clips of iconic performances, interviews with actors, directors and scholars -- along with visits to key locations and illustrative excerpts from the plays staged specially for the series at Shakespeare’s Globe in London -- to tell the stories behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
“Wyoming PBS wanted to participate in this project because we recognize the value of reaching out to our local communities with performing arts and cultural events, especially small, rural communities,” says Wyoming PBS General Manager Ruby Calvert. “We want to be the organization that ties our communities together and helps people to experience the arts firsthand.”
Wyoming’s project could not have been better timed, according to Leigh Selting, UW Department of Theatre and Dance head.
“Next spring we’re hosting several members of the celebrated Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS) as eminent artists-in-residence for ‘The Shakespeare Project,’ in which three Shakespearean plays will be set on our student performers in the AFTLS style,” Selting says. “All three student productions will then tour the state in March, along with AFTLS, constituting a remarkable ‘Shakespeare explosion’ across the Cowboy State.”
Selting says the schedule of the statewide performances is being developed now and will be announced at a later date.
Productions planned are “a Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Much Ado About Nothing” and “The Merchant of Venice.” Additionally, a troupe from the AFTLS will perform “Macbeth” in tandem with the eminent artist residency.
Wyoming Public Media will feature the project next spring on its award-winning program, “Open Spaces,” and in other promotions. The grant will support the touring of the three student productions and associated educational outreach to 12 locations throughout the state in March. Grant support will allow Wyoming PBS to produce a half-hour television program on “The Shakespeare Project” for its “Wyoming Chronicle” series, and to assist in promoting the project.
“Working with Wyoming PBS and Wyoming Public Media to document, tour and promote this work will provide us with an unparalleled opportunity to bring outstanding theater to the entire state community and to provide outreach,” Selting says.