The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival is pleased to welcome back audiences for a new season of free Shakespeare productions in 2021, beginning with the return to Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park with King Lear.
The Festival is committed to preserving the health of our staff, actors, and audience and will share complete safety precautions closer to performance dates in compliance with the guidelines of health officials.
The 21st season of outdoor performances starting with KING LEAR starring André De Shields in Shakespeare Glen, a new 24-stop touring production of OTHELLO and the return of Shakespeare in the Streets in the historic North St. Louis neighborhood of THE VILLE.
On May 3, the company of 18 talented (and fully vaccinated) actors will come together in St. Louis for the first rehearsal of King Lear under Director Carl Cofield. Get to know their names and faces.
This is the 2021 Shakespeare in the Park cast:
André De Shields (King Lear), Rayme Cornell (Goneril), J. Samuel Davis (Kent), Leland Fowler (Edmund) Allen Gilmore (Fool), Nicole King (Cordelia), Jason Little (Albany), Daniel Molina (Edgar), Carl Overly, Jr. (Cornwall), Michael Tran (Oswald/France), Jacqueline Thompson (Regan) and Brian Anthony Wilson (Gloucester). With support from Atum Jones and the St. Louis Black Rep Intern Company: Kentrell Jamison, Theorri London, Brian McKinley, Tyler White and Christina Yancy.
Reservations for King Lear will open on May 2! Stay tuned for more information on how to attend. The opening show of the 21st season will run June 2 – June 27.
Shakespeare Glen, Forest Park June 2-27 Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winner André De Shields (Broadway: Hadestown, The Wiz) stars in Shakespeare’s greatest — and most modern — masterpiece.
Carl Cofield (Associate Artistic Director, Classical Theatre of Harlem) directs an all-BIPOC cast from New York, Chicago and St. Louis.
OTHELLO Aug. 3 -29
TourCo presents 24 performances in Missouri & Illinois Our new outdoor touring troupe visits public parks across the bi-state region. A Living Study Guide before each performance explores the themes and modern impact of Othello — Shakespeare’s gripping tragedy of jealousy, race and resentment.
SHAKESPEARE IN THE STREETS: THE VILLE Sept. 9-11
Annie Malone Children’s Home, 63133
After an extended storytelling residency, Shakespeare in the Streets returns with a new play based on Shakespeare and inspired by the Ville neighborhood, one of the most historically significant Black communities in America.
While theaters remain dark, we are excited to share a socially-distant, self-guided tour in Forest Park with custom art installations and open-air performances. The 1.25-mile walk was developed by St Louis Shakespeare Festival and will feature artists from Painted Black STL, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The Big Muddy Dance Company, Poor Monsters and Jazz St. Louis.
See the park like you’ve never seen it before on this 80-minute jaunt full of poetry, music and art. Loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “A Late Summer Night’s Stroll” puts you at the center of the story: four lovers’ escape to an enchanted wood and the magical night of transformation that follows. A socially-distant self-guided tour of iconic spots and hidden gems, featuring custom installations, open-air performances and charming vignettes.
Free, but registration required. Suggested donation of $20.
Times and Group Sizes
The 1.25 mile walk begins at ten-minute intervals between 5 p.m. – 7:40 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. Groups are limited to ten or fewer and only one group can register per time-slot (you will not be paired with another group). Guests are strongly encouraged to attend only with members of their own household.
Guests ages 9 and up must wear a face mask or covering in accordance with the City of St. Louis guidelines when in attendance.
A Late Summer Night’s Stroll: An Interactive Walk Experience in Forest ParkWill Be Offered Aug. 12 – Sept. 6
Producing Artistic Director Tom Ridgely has officially announced the postponement of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” its 20th Anniversary Shakespeare in the Park production, as well as “Shakespeare in the Streets: The Ville” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Bruce Longworth, has been rescheduled for the 2022 summer season, and “Shakespeare in the Streets: The Ville”, written by Mariah Richardson and directed by Thomasina Clarke, will take place in September 2021. Final dates will be announced at a later time.
“In the end, it boiled down to the safety of the artists,” Ridgely said in a statement. “The actors’ union hired a very well-qualified epidemiologist to assess the situation, and their determination was that it just wouldn’t be safe to return to work this summer. We wish it could be otherwise, but we have to trust the experts and not take any chances when it comes to people’s health and well-being. We’ll be back though, and we’re already looking forward to how good it will feel when we can all be together again.”
The Festival will spend the additional time investing in The Ville, working closely with 4the Ville and Young Friends of the Ville, its partner organizations on Shakespeare in the Streets.
“I am saddened about the delay but excited about the extra time and opportunity to really learn about the residents of the Ville. Their story is rooted in the earliest history of our city. And a story crying out to be heard,” said playwright Mariah Richardson.
The Festival is continuing to collect stories from current and past residents of the neighborhood and encourage anyone with a connection to submit via mail, email or phone. Details and questions are available at stlshakes.org/theville.
“A Late Summer Night’s Stroll”
In lieu of the original scheduled 20th-anniversary production of Shakespeare in the Park, the Festival is offering a new socially-distant walking experience in Forest Park. A LATE SUMMER NIGHT’S STROLL, loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will take guests on a 90-minute walk through some of the park’s most iconic spots and hidden gems.
The STROLL will use music, dance and visual art to offer a new and surprising way of experiencing both the story and the park. “Midsummer is one of the most magical and beloved plays in all of world drama. It follows the flight of four lovers into the woods and the night of lyrical transformations that drive them apart and back together again – capped by the famous and hilarious “play-within-a-play” put on by local tradesmen,” says Ridgely.
“This experience will put the walkers at the center of the story.” A LATE SUMMER NIGHT’S STROLL run evenings, Tuesday-Sunday, August 12 to September 6. Groups will be limited to 10 and under with scheduled start times to maintain social distance. The walk is free, but registration is required and will open to the public on Monday, July 13. Suggested donations are $20, and post-walk picnics will be available at an additional charge. “In this time when safe, fun, out-of-home experiences have been almost impossible to come by, we hope to create an activity that allows the people of St. Louis to reconnect with the city and each other in an act of engagement and shared pleasure,” concludes Ridgely.
More information will be available online at www.stlshakes.org/stroll. Leadership support for 2020’s Shakespeare in the Park programming is provided by The Whitaker Foundation, Emerson, The Bellwether Foundation, Edward Jones, Enterprise Holdings Foundations, The Strive Fund, the Missouri Arts Council, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Buckingham Asset Management, and the Regional Arts Commission.
The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival presents Shakespeare and works inspired by his legacy of storytelling. Since 2001, the festival has grown from producing a single production of Shakespeare in the Park to a year-round season of impactful theater in exciting and accessible venues throughout the St. Louis community. The festival’s artistic and education programs reached over 50,000 patrons and students during the 2018 season and have reached over one million since 2001. In 2019, the Festival received a “What’s Right with the Region” award from Focus St. Louis
15 arts organizations will join forces with OTSL and RAC to present a streamed concert in support of artists whose livelihoods have been directly impacted by COVID-19.
Together with 14 other arts organizations and the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) is proud to announce “Arts United STL,” a free virtual benefit in support of RAC’s Artist Relief Fund, which provides critical aid to St. Louis working artists whose livelihoods have been critically interrupted by the pandemic. Produced by OTSL in partnership with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, this benefit will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 31st and present performances from local arts organizations, including The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, and more.
Arts United STL was first envisioned by OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen as a way for St. Louis’ established arts institutions to help support the community’s vibrant arts ecosystem. After an initial consultation between OTSL, RAC, and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, a consortium of 15 organizations was invited across an array of arts mediums. In the coming days, RAC will also encourage open submissions from independent artists and other arts organizations to further highlight the artistic diversity of the city.
More information about Arts United STL can be found on Opera Theatre’s website at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited, which will also host the live video stream on Sunday, May 31st. In addition, viewers may watch the livestream via YouTube on Opera Theatre’s channel. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to the RAC Artist Relief Fund during the concert. To date, the Artist Relief Fund has distributed $136,500 in direct support to individual artists. The goal of Arts United STL is to raise an additional $250,000 through 1,000 individual donations and sponsorships. Supporters may donate to the Artist Relief Fund at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited at any time before, during, or after the live event.
The arts and culture sector is an important driver for the St. Louis economy. According to the 2015 Americans for the Arts Economic Prosperity 5 study commissioned by RAC, the nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $590.9 million and 19,129 full-time equivalent jobs for the greater St. Louis area during that same year. Since the start of the pandemic, based on research conducted by Americans for the Arts, 89% of St. Louis City and County arts institutions have canceled events that would have reached more than 285,000 individuals.
“This benefit represents an exciting and collaborative effort to respond to the global crisis affecting the arts and culture sector in our region,” said Mont Levy, chair of the board of commissioners at RAC. “As the major public funder of arts in the region with a mandate to support individual artists, we know it is RAC’s responsibility to provide emergency support during this time of great need. We could not be more grateful to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for spearheading this event, or to the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and every participating organization for their work to highlight the rich cultural tapestry of our region and support their fellow artists.”
The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis is the largest annual funder of non-profit arts in the region, providing grants to individual artists, arts and culture organizations, and other programs since 1985. RAC established the Artist Relief Fund through the St. Louis Community Foundation on April 1st to help working artists who have lost income due to the pandemic. So far, the fund has distributed $500 and $1,000 grants to more than 130 artists and will resume accepting new relief applications once additional funds have been secured.
OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen says of the effort, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with so many other arts organizations to help local artists, whose work makes St. Louis an immeasurably vibrant, special place. OTSL couldn’t be happier to produce this concert in support of artists during these difficult times. This benefit will highlight a fantastic array of art from different genres that reflect the artistic diversity and traditions of this community. I am so grateful to all my many colleagues who are uniting in this remarkable way to support one another and our entire arts ecosystem.”
All participating organizations are donating their time, with production costs and staffing needs covered by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, additional staffing needs covered by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and an in-kind donation from Switch. The program will be directed by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Tom Ridgely. Arts United STL is produced in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission, and the following arts partners: The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, and the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis.
Here is the HEC featurette piece: https://youtu.be/Upzz841hHX4
About Regional Arts Commission
The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC) supports artists and arts organizations through grantmaking, strategic initiatives and other programs that build capacity, improve quality and advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the region’s arts and culture sector. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020, RAC has been pivotal in nurturing the vibrant art scene throughout St. Louis, awarding more than 7,000 grants totaling over $100 million since its inception in 1985. Directed by a board of 15 commissioners appointed by the chief executives of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, RAC prioritizes quality in its support of nonprofit arts organizations, individual artists, and programs and promotes partnerships that strengthen the sector and drive progress throughout the region. RAC receives its funding from hotel/motel room sales tax revenue from St. Louis City and County. Visit www.racstl.org for more information, or follow us on Facebook at Regional Arts Commission or Twitter @RACStLouis.