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ACU faculty, students, alumni participate in Shakespeare Festival

By Floyd Miller



More than a dozen ACU students, alumni and faculty will participate in the 17th annual Abilene Shakespeare Festival, beginning June 26. {{more}} The Festival provides an excellent opportunity to expose West Texas to the major works of Shakespeare and other classical literature, said Adam Hester, director of the Festival and Chair of the Department of Theatre at ACU. This year, the festival is producing Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, As You Like It.”We have played to an ever-widening spectrum of people over the past few years and our audiences have been made up of young and old, blue collar and white collar, cowboy and executive,” said Hester. “Many of our patrons have little experience in regular theatre-going. We believe the theatre classics provide a strong link in the educational and cultural enrichment of our community.”This year’s production will feature three special performers: Dr. Joe Stephenson, who holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Connecticut in Shakespeare Studies and serves as an assistant professor of English at ACU; Dr. Bill Rankin, associate professor of English; and Bill Overton, who has performed in Shakespeare festivals in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Abilene. Stephenson will also be heading up the dramaturgical work and leading ‘talk backs’ with the patrons after the show. “This is an opportunity for professionals and community to come together with artistic staff and actors in order to discuss the artistic and cultural impact of the play,” said Hester.Two ACU alumni, Jonathan Bragg and Amy Simpson, will portray the play’s main characters, Orlando and Rosalind. The rest of the cast and crew is composed of ACU students, faculty, and several members of the community. Ben McLemore, sophomore theatre and English major, has also put together a study guide for the play so that attendees can have an in-depth understanding of Shakespeare and his work.The Festival is made possible by the Bill and Ann Bradshaw Stokes Endowment for Theatre , a grant from the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council and a grant from the Community Foundation of Abilene.The Abilene Shakespeare Festival will hold performances June 26-28 and July 1, 3 and 5. Although tickets are free, reservations are suggested. The box office is open Monday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. in the Williams Performing Arts Center on the ACU campus. Patrons may reserve their tickets by calling 325-674-ARTS . Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.

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