Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF (OST) announced it will host the 22nd annual conference of the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA) at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 East Rollins Street), February 29 through March 3, 2012. This prestigious conference will bring leading Shakespeare producers, directors, educators, and actors from around the world to Orlando for an enlightening and educational assembly.
Upwards of 150 participants are projected to travel to Orlando to participate, making it the best-attended conference in STA's history. STA represents more than 100 theater organizations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and around the globe, including representatives from Shakespeare's Globe (Stratford-Upon-Avon, England), Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Canada).
To better meet the needs of this large and influential group of out-of-town visitors, many Orlando businesses have stepped up to partner with STA and Orlando Shakes. Several local hotels are offering special rates to STA attendees, including DoubleTree by Hilton and the Comfort Suites both in Downtown Orlando. Coupled with several days of world-class programming, participants will have the opportunity to explore local sites and get a taste for the local culture and cuisine that define Orlando.
"This is an exciting moment for us – to have over a hundred Shakespeare professionals brainstorming, celebrating, and creating national initiatives right here in Orlando," says OST Artistic Director Jim Helsinger. "We are honored to host this conference and look forward to learning from our peers, sharing new ideas, and discussing key issues of keeping our theaters running in difficult economic times, celebrating Shakespeare's 400th anniversary in 2016, and the daily ins and outs of running theaters with a mission to perform his works."
The theme of this year's conference, selected by STA President Patrick Spottiswoode (Shakespeare's Globe), is "Shakespeare: Here and Everywhere". The theme reflects STA's outward-looking mission and explores the changing ways in which modern readers, audiences, and theaters perform or view Shakespeare's plays. The conference will include detailed exploration into international perspectives, translating Shakespeare into other languages, and staging Shakespeare's work in found spaces. Other topics include "Hic et Ubique: Staging the Supernatural" and "Shakespeare on the Brink: Theatres in Financial Distress."
Orlando Shakespeare Theater hosted the annual conference in 1999, which coincided with the beginning of construction on the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Past conferences were hosted by Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe (Stratford-upon-Avon & London, England); Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Ontario, Canada); Folger Shakespeare Theatre (Washington, D.C.), Colorado Shakespeare (Boulder, CO), and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, Oregon), among others. STA continues to attract international interest, as delegates from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, and Poland have already registered for the 2012 conference in Orlando.
A three-day training pre-conference, "Let Me Have Audience for a Word or Two", will precede the conference. A blend of master-classes, roundtables, and informal gatherings, the pre-conference will be an opportunity for STA members to work on practical matters related to the performance and teaching of Shakespeare's plays. This year's pre-conference will examine how the theater community engages audiences in The Playhouse, the classroom, and the community. Pre-conference workshops will include classes on Clowning, Rhetoric and Its Audience, Original Practice Shakespeare, and the Lessac technique. Scheduled presenters include Laura Cole (American Shakespeare Tavern), Kevin Coleman (Shakespeare & Co.), Sarah Enloe and Kevin Costa (American Shakespeare Center and Chesapeake Shakespeare Company), and Kate Ingram (University of Central Florida).
The majority of 2012 STA Conference activity will take place at Orlando Shakespeare Theater's home, the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center, and at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Orlando. Tony Award winner Roger Rees will kick off the conference with a special performance of his one-man show What You Will, in the Margeson Theater on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. What You Will is the one-man everything there is "to be or not to be" about William Shakespeare: the greatest soliloquies ever written next to side-splitting accounts of the funniest disasters ever perpetrated on the stage.
Conference attendees may also attend Orlando Shakespeare Theater's productions of William Shakespeare's romantic masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet, and the sweeping, epic adventure, Cymbeline, in rotating repertory. Performances are scheduled Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:00 pm, Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm, January 25 – March 18, 2012. Ticket prices range from $15-$38. Discounts are available for students, active military, and groups.
For more information about single tickets to What You Will, Romeo and Juliet, or Cymbeline, call the Orlando Shakes Box Office at (407) 447-1700, purchase online at www.orlandoshakes.org, or visit in person at the Box Office located inside the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 East Rollins Street in Orlando's Loch Haven Cultural Park. Conference registration is limited to current STA member organizations only.
The Shakespeare Theatre Association of America was established in 1991 to provide a forum for the artistic and managerial leadership of theaters whose central activity is the production of Shakespeare's plays; to discuss issues and share methods of work, resources, and information; and to act as an advocate for Shakespearean productions and training in North America. For more information about STA, please visit http://stahome.org.
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