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SHAKE 38 Kicks Off 4/23 in Celebration of Shakespeare's 450th Birthday

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"All the world's a stage" penned William Shakespeare, and St. Louisans will hold him to it by reading, painting, dancing and singing their way through the Bard's 38-play canon during the fifth annual SHAKE 38 April 23-27. Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra will kick-off the event by performing a "musical response" to Love's Labour's Lost at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, the Bard's 450th birthday, at the Festival headquarters (5715 Elizabeth Ave.).

In addition, guests attending the SHAKE 38 kick-off event will get a peek at the 250stl birthday cake developed by artist Andy Cross to represent Shakespeare Festival St. Louis as part of the city's Cakeway to the West, held in conjunction with the city's 250th anniversary.

Rats & People, which composed the music for the Festival's 2013 main stage performance of Twelfth Night in Forest Park, will be creating a special musical interpretation of excerpts from Love's Labour's Lost for SHAKE 38. The St. Louis group is known for composing and recording soundtrack music for short films, and is comprised of composers Matt Pace and Brien Seyle and instrumentalists Emma Tiemann, Matt Frederick, and Rob Laptad.

The SHAKE 38 kick-off event, which is set from 6 to 8 p.m., is free and open to the public. The five-day event is sponsored by Ken and Nancy Kranzberg with media support provided by The Riverfront Times and KDHX Radio.

SHAKE 38 performances are limited only by one's imagination. Some highlights this year include a hip-hop performance at the city Hall Rotunda (co-sponsored by Alderwoman Marlene Davis, 19th Ward, St. Louis), fight scenes at Grand Center Arts Academy, and hair salon styling at Grand Beauty Supply. Cupcakes, coffee and root beer floats will be distributed at other events, and a table for 10 has been reserved at Ranoush on Delmar for anyone wanting to participate in a Blind Shake. Scripts for the Blind Shake events are distributed on site. St. Louisans will also be able to visit the Festival's Mobile-Optimized Website for the full SHAKE 38 schedule.

"We originally set out to create a unique performance experience with this program by drawing upon the depth of talent in St. Louis," said Rick Dildine, Artistic & Executive Director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. "The result has been a terrific showing of the city's innovative and vibrant culture."

SHAKE38 was introduced in 2010, as an around-the-clock urban experience highlighting Shakespeare's entire canon in every neighborhood in St. Louis in 38 hours. In 2012 the event expanded to five days, and this year, SHAKE38.com allows people from all over the world to upload Shakespeare-inspired art and ideas. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks and with the support of the Regional Arts Commission.

SHAKE 38 will be followed by the Festival's double-feature main stage productions of Henry IV and Henry V, May 17 through June 15, at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park. The 2014 season will culminate with the third annual Shakespeare in the Streets (Sept. 18-20), a grassroots theatrical experience that invites St. Louis' neighborhoods to tell their unique community stories, resulting in free street performance that showcase the combined talents of professional actors who perform alongside local residents. This year's event will be held in Clayton.

In the past 13 years, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has attracted more than 600,000 people to its annual free performances in Forest Park. The season has been made possible with the support of the Regional Arts Commission, financial assistance provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and funded in part by the Arts and Education Council. The organization has reached 250,000 students through its educational. Since 2011, Shakespeare in the Streets has invited St. Louis' neighborhoods to tell their unique community stories, shutting down a street for performances that present the combined talents of professional actors alongside local residents. For more information, please visit www.sfstl.com or call 314/531-9800.

In 2007, Rats & People released a full-length album of songs, "The City of Passersby," the same year its Buster Keaton show premiered. Finding silent film accompaniment more rewarding than conventional bar shows, the ensemble ceased to write and perform lyrically-based music and focused primarily on composing and performing original scores to films of the Silent Era. In addition to "Go West," the group produced the soundtrack for F.W. Murnau's "The Last Laugh" (1924) and the Keaton short "The High Sign" (1921). Today the ensemble also composes and records soundtrack music for contemporary films. The group consists of a string and brass section, piano, and percussion. Their sounds are made by a violin duo, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, percussion, ambient tape loops, trumpets, trombones, and guitars. Rats & People have performed at the Rag Tag Theater in Columbia, Missouri and at art galleries and other venues throughout St. Louis.

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