If you’ve never been to the Utah Shakespearean Festival, you may not be aware of the many activities that the Festival has to offer. During our time in Cedar City, we sampled some of these activities and also learned what we could about others that weren’t available during our visit.
One of the Festival’s oldest traditions, the Greenshow is a free musical and dance performance that takes place outside of the Adams Theatre every Monday through Saturday at 7 PM. The show is especially appropriate for children, but the spirit and fun of an Elizabethan country festival is accessible to all. The Greenshow also helps each evening’s Shakespeare play attendees get into the spirit of the Shakespeare’s world through song and dance. You may even want to attend twice so you can see both versions: Scottish Night and Irish Night. And the best part? The production is completely free.
Speaking of free, the literary seminars are another Shakespearean Festival offering that shouldn’t be passed up. Every morning at 9 AM and 10 AM, there are one-hour seminars about the previous day’s productions in the grove of trees south of the Adams Theatre. This is basically a Q&A with a knowledgeable Festival employee who can give you insights to the previous day’s theatrical experience. I was skeptical when we went to the first one (on Much Ado About Nothing), but I was pleasantly surprised that the discussions were interesting and accessible to both the Shakespeare novice and the hardened veteran.
I want to clarify that the seminars are not at all like a college English class discussion. The audience really runs the seminar by steering the discussion in the direction that most interests them. For example, during the seminar on The 39 Steps, Festival employee Nancy Melich told us stories from rehearsals and conversations she had had with the director to give the audience insights on the improvisation and slapstick comedy of the show. But in the same conversation she also touched upon the symbolism embedded in the original novel that the play (and the movie) is based on.
Another free morning event that the Utah Shakespearean Festival provides is the actors’ seminars. These seminars allow the audience to interact with the actors and ask about their craft. On Friday’s The 39 Steps seminar, Aaron Galligan-Stierle (who played Clown #2) spoke about the unique experience of working with the show and answered questions about working as an actor in regional theaters. If I could describe these seminars for those who haven’t attended them, I would say that they’re like the extras on a DVD where you can learn tidbits about the productions you see at the Shakespearean Festival.
Props and Costume Seminars
Similar to the actors’ seminars, the props and costume seminars give the audience a chance to learn about the creation of the hundreds of props and costumes that the Festival creates each year. Props seminars start on July 12 and take place in the Randall Theatre at 11 AM on select mornings. Admission is free.
Shakespeare can be intimidating to the newcomer. Other audience members may be nervous about seeing a production that they haven’t ever heard of before. If you’re unfamiliar with a play, the Shakespearean Festival invites you to a short play orientation to prepare you for your experience. The play orientations permit audience members to ask questions about the productions and other aspects of the Festival. Orientations are at 1 PM in the Adams Theatre and 6:45 PM and in the Auditorium Theatre. Admission is free.
None of our UTBA visitors took a backstage tour, but for patrons who love the Festival or have are unfamiliar with what goes on behind the scenes at a professional theater, this is an intriguing option. For just $8, Festival attendees can learn about the modern production process and gain a new perspective on the Shakespeare experience.
This new feature at the Festival allows audience members to watch the transition from the afternoon production to the evening production in the Randall Theatre. Narrated by a member of the technical staff, audience members will be able to witness the daily transformation that permits the Shakespearean Festival to mount different plays in the same space on the same day. The Repertory Magic presentation is on Thursdays only after the matinee show starting July 15. Tickets are $8.
There really is much more to do at the Festival than just watch plays as a passive audience member, and these additional activities are part of what makes the Utah Shakespearean Festival a must-see event. Like UTBA, the Festival staff encourages a conversation between patrons and professionals. If you’re in Cedar City for just a few days—like we were—it is possible to fill your time with Shakespearean Festival activities that entertain, educate, and enlighten. UTBA recommends that you take advantage of the opportunities if you can.