Shakespeare in the Streets Stages New WINTER'S TALE Adaptation, Now thru 9/21
Shopkeepers and artists are just a few of the Grove and Forest Park Southeast residents who will appear alongside professional actors in a play artfully adapted from William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, as part of the second annual, wildly popular, Shakespeare in the Streets event, it was announced today by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis Executive Director Rick Dildine. The event is scheduled today through Saturday, Sept. 19-21.
The hour-long play will be performed at 8 p.m. each night. Director Alec Wild, Playwright Nancy Bell and Production Designer Justin Barisonek have been meeting with residents and community leaders of the neighborhood for the past nine months with the goal of developing a piece of theater that draws upon the residents' hopes, dreams and aspirations for the neighborhood.
The Winter's Tale is a story of loss and redemption, which explores the themes of time, jealousy and healing. It concerns a king who is possessed by an irrational jealousy that tears his family apart. Many years, adventures and coincidences later, the family is reunited by the powers of time, radical forgiveness and a mysterious magic.
Wild, founder and artistic director of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Folio Theater in Chicago, said the selection of The Winter's Tale was a natural fit for the area.
"In The Winter's Tale, forgiveness and reconciliation bring past and present together, and create peace and forward movement," Wild said. "The spirit of understanding and harmony that's blossoming in the Grove and Forest Park Southeast is what inspired us to choose this play."
The neighborhood runs along Manchester and is bordered by Vandeventer and Kingshighway. Professional actors and community residents will begin their month-long rehearsals in late August; all three performances are free. Details on the cast members will be announced later this summer. Bell, an assistant professor of theatre at Saint Louis University, is still writing the adaptation for the new play, the title of which is still a work in progress.
"We choose this play because we felt it gave us an opportunity to explore the ways in which the diverse dwellers of the Grove and Forest Park Southeast come together again and again to renew the city every day," Bell said. "I want to evoke the positive human actions -- the actions of forgiveness and love -- without which the Grove and the rest of the city cannot operate. This play suggests that it is these actions that wield the real power."
In addition, Shakespeare in the Streets will be offering an educational component that will relate to The Winter's Tale. Students will have the opportunity to participate in SITS workshops and two week-long afternoon class electives presented as part of the City Garden Montessori Charter School's summer program, and three weeks of classes for the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club Summer Camp. Class activities will include creative drama approaches to acting and discovering Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Auditioning workshops for adults and teens will also be held throughout August.
This year's street event is underwritten by The Whitaker Foundation, PNC Arts Alive, Washington University Medical Center, The Grove Community Improvement District, Mangrove Redevelopment, Amy and Amrit Gill, and Christy and John Nickel.
Last year's inaugural event, The New World, also written by Bell and based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, was performed on Cherokee Street in the Gravois Park/Benton Park West neighborhood. Shop owners and residents performed alongside professional actors in the show. As a result of its impact throughout the city, the Festival was awarded the 2012 Exemplary Community Achievement Award from the Missouri Humanities Council. The neighborhood-inspired shows represent the largest programming expansion since the founding of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in 2001.
As a recipient a 1997 Fox Fellowship, Director Alec Wild traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia, to work as the Assistant Director of The Revizor Project, an international, cross-cultural effort to examine the work of Vsevolod Meyerhold. While in Russia, he studied at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Theater. Most recently, he directed at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, and at The Great River Shakespeare Festival, which he founded and where he served as Producing and Associate Director for eight years. Bell has acted in theaters across the country. She has numerous TV credits and was most recently seen in Clybourne Park at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. For her work as playwright of last year's The New World, Bell was nominated for a St. Louis Theatre Circle Award for Best New Play. Barisonek is a freelance designer who has worked with numerous St. Louis theatre companies including HotCity Theatre, New Line Theatre, Union Avenue Opera Theatre, the Muny and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.