The 14th Annual Murray Shakespeare Festival is set to take place Monday through Friday.
Each year, the festival hosts a series of performances, workshops, lectures, films and educational outreach to regional schools.
Tickets for the festival went on sale Feb. 24 and cost $7 for Murray State students and staff and $12 for the general public.
Since 2012, Murray State’s own William Jones, assistant professor of English, has organized and executed all festival events as the festival director.
“The purpose of the festival is to offer professional-level Shakespearean theater to students, teachers and community members from around the entire Jackson Purchase Region at an affordable price,” Jones said.
The festival will host six performances versus last year’s four. There will be three “Othello” performances, two “Henry IV, Part 1” performances and one “Merry Wives of Windsor” performance.
The performances will each take place during the week of the festival during the morning or the evening in Lovett Auditorium.
“For the past 14 years, the festival has hosted the traveling company from The American Shakespeare Center based in Staunton, Va.,” Jones said. “They are a highly-trained and deeply entertaining troupe who perform the plays using the dynamic staging practices used in William Shakespeare’s day.”
Activities have been planned out for the week in order to engage students, faculty and the public in the works of Shakespeare and give an interesting insight to what they may or may not already know about Shakespeare and his works.
Monday, the festival will kick off with a “Shakespeare Flash Mob” and will follow up with various workshops that are free to attend.
The following days will include more workshops, a lecture by Kathy Callahan, associate professor of history, entitled “World of Young Prince Hal,” and trips to the elementary and middle schools. The students will also get the chance to interact with the actors.
A detailed listing of each event, including locations and times can be found on the Murray State website.
“Besides the performances, the number of workshops have been increased,” Jones said. “Some interdepartmental events, such as the history lecture and the library lecture, have been added. There is also a gender and diversity studies roundtable event that is led by Murray State students and Josh Adair, (assistant professor of English.) The new activities have helped increase the outreach to schools around the region.”
Last year, the turnout for the event was fairly impressive, Jones said.
Although there were two less performances by The American Shakespeare Center, about 1,200 high school students had attended the performance of Twelfth Night, a performance that will not be a part of this year’s festival.
Jones said that attendance more than doubled last year compared to previous years. He also said he expects this year’s numbers to exceed last year’s.
With at least a tragedy or two under their belts, the Shakespeare festival is by no means dull and it has something for everyone, Jones said.
Although it has been said that parting may be sweet sorrow, Jones said he believes that each person at the festival will part with joy.
Story by Katrina Yarbrough, Staff writer