Montana Shakespeare in the Parks Celebrates their 50th Season
Looking for an excuse to pack a picnic, grab your friends, and enjoy a little live theater under Montana’s big sky? There is no better reason than to enjoy Montana Shakespeare in the Parks! This company is celebrating their 50th season and over the years has become one of the most anticipated summer events and caters to communities of all sizes. In fact, when the company began the goal was “to bring Shakespeare directly to the people of Montana who would not otherwise have the opportunity with an emphasis on underserved rural communities.”
WHAT IS MONTANA SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKS?
In the summer of 1973, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks opened for their first season. At the time the company was comprised of students and community members under the direction of Dr. Bruce Jacobsen. The first season featured 13 performances in 7 Montana communities.
Today, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks has become a mainstay of Montana summers, catering to the entire state of Montana in addition to regional performances in North Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington. Their outreach has expanded beyond the popular summer tour to include Shakespeare in the Schools, a program designed for middle and high schools and Montana Shakes! an interactive program hosted by elementary schools emphasizing hands-on workshops to introduce Shakespeare to the new generations in Montana and Wyoming.
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks continues to operate with the mission to “engage and enrich both rural and underserved communities with professional productions of Shakespeare and other classics and, through educational outreach, to inspire creative expression and appreciation of the arts in young audiences.”
50TH SUMMER PARKS SEASON – 2022 PERFORMANCES
Each summer Montana Shakespeare in the Parks produces two plays to alternate across the state. This year the company will be performing the tragedy King Lear and the comedy Twelfth Night. Not sure what to expect? Here is a brief synopsis of both plays:
King Lear is a Shakespearian tragedy which introduces two fathers, King Lear who has three daughters and the Earl of Gloucester who has two sons, one legitimate and one bastard. King Lear, the aging monarch of Britain, announces a plan to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. When asked to show their love of their father, his eldest daughters played along saying what he wanted to hear while his youngest daughter who truly loved him refused to say anything. This resulted in the banishment of the youngest while the eldest two split the kingdom. The eldest daughters turn on their father leaving him without a place to stay and struggling in a storm. At this point, Lear is going mad with rage from the way he has been treated by his daughters.
Meanwhile, the illegitimate son concocts a plan to show that his elder brother is untrustworthy and has plans to kill their father and take over his inheritance. On the run, the elder brother disguises himself and befriends the King. With a plan between the youngest daughter and the King to take back the kingdom, there is misplaced trust that results in their capture and order of execution. As with any Shakespearian tragedy, a series of deaths ends the play as others are left with the weight of the tragedy.
Twelfth Night has all the marks of a Shakespearian comedy. This play is a classic filled with mistaken identities, misunderstandings, and undermining plots that only a portion of the cast is privy.
This play begins with a shipwreck where twins, Viola and Sebastian are torn apart, left believing the other has perished. Viola takes on the identity of a man to become the Duke’s servant. The Duke, who is in love with Olivia, tasks his servant, Viola (in disguise), to woo Olivia on his behalf. Meanwhile, Viola herself has fallen in love with the Duke. In a twist of events Olivia falls for Viola (in disguise) and reveals that she could never love the Duke. Like many of Shakespeare’s comedies, Twelfth Night ends in the reveal of these mistaken identities and at least one wedding.
MONTANA SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKS SCHEDULE 2022
Southwest Montana is privileged to host 10 Montana Shakespeare in the Parks performances for the summer of 2022. These performances can be found throughout the region between July and September, here’s the run down of Southwest Montana performances:
- July 18th – Whitehall, MT • King Lear
- July 25th – UM Western Legacy Plaza in Dillon, MT • King Lear
- July 28th – Winninghoff Park in Philipsburg, MT • Twelfth Night
- July 29th – Old Prison Yard in Deer Lodge, MT • King Lear
- July 30th – Heritage Park in Townsend, MT • Twelfth Night
- July 31st – Washoe Park in Anaconda, MT • King Lear
- August 1st – Anchor Park in Helena, MT • Twelfth Night
- August 2nd – Anchor Park in Helena, MT • King Lear
- August 31st – Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Boulder, MT • Twelfth Night
- September 1st – Stodden Park in Butte, MT • King Lear
Mark your calendars for one of these outstanding events!