CEDAR CITY, Utah, April 13, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Shakespeare Festival is moving forward with plans to produce a 2020 season, it was announced Monday.
Changes include producing fewer shows, modifying the schedule to start later in the summer and altering show designs, said a news release.
“These are unprecedented times as we all navigate the impact of COVID-19,” said Frank Mack, executive producer of the festival. “However, with guidance from local health professionals, state officials and Southern Utah University President Scott L. Wyatt, we have a plan that is safe, responsible and enables us to fulfill our mission to present great theater. The health and safety of our artists, staff, audience and community members is the top priority, and we feel like we’ve taken the right steps to ensure we can still produce a quality season and protect everyone.”
Along with the season adjustments, the festival will also mitigate health risks through a variety of methods some of which include implementing numerous hand sanitizing stations, increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures and strategic audience seating. As company members arrive in Cedar City they will self-quarantine for two-weeks and follow guidance offered by public health officials.
“The changes to our season are necessary, but we are committed to providing creative, reimagined works of art that audiences can enjoy during this difficult time,” said Brian Vaughn, artistic director. “I am so glad we have been able to develop a solution that will enable our talented team of artists and technicians to tell these magnificent stories.”
Performances will begin July 9 with Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “The Pirates of Penzance” in the Randall L. Jones Theatre. The outdoor Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre will show Shakespeare’s “Richard III” from July 20, “Pericles” from July 21, and “The Comedy of Errors” from July 22. The season will be rounded out by a remounting of “Every Brilliant Thing,” which was part of the 2019 season and toured to Utah schools. It will open July 21 in the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre. All five shows will run in rotating repertory through Sept. 5.
Backstage tours, play orientations, play seminars, and production seminars will be offered beginning July 9. The festival’s free outdoor “Greenshow” will begin July 20.
“In order to present the outlined season, the festival will limit building sets, props, lights and costumes for each show and focus on innovating storytelling and powerful acting,” the news release said. “All productions will be fully rehearsed and feature a full company of outstanding professional actors, dancers and singers.”
The festival is already developing behind-the-scenes access to the artists through additional web content, social media and streaming videos. Audience members will be invited to engage online and “peel back the curtain” to witness how a show comes to life, the news release said.
“The festival will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation very closely as it is impossible to know for certain what conditions will be like in July and August,” the news release said. “The decision to move forward with an altered season was made under consultation with state officials, local health experts and SUU administration. The festival will continue to work with these entities, and if conditions are not satisfactory the season will be cancelled and all tickets refunded.”
If patrons have purchased tickets for plays that have been canceled, they will be contacted by guest services personnel, or they can contact the ticket office at 800-PLAYTIX for help in rescheduling. All fees, including exchange fees, will be waived for the 2020 season.
Tickets for the season are now on sale at www.bard.org and 800-PLAYTIX.