By Mario Carr EBS CONTRIBUTOR
This coming Monday in Big Sky, anyone can enjoy a free outdoor performance of Shakespeare in the Park. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs, friends and family and a picnic supper to enjoy the show.
An outreach program through Montana State University’s College of Arts and Architecture, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks (MSIP) will be returning to Big Sky for a performance of “Measure for Measure” on Monday, Aug. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the Town Center Plaza beside Wilson Hotel. In case of inclement weather, the alternate location will be at the Ophir Elementary School.
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks is an MSU outreach program and was founded on the firm belief that Shakespeare belongs to everyone. All MSIP performances are free and open to the public. For over 20 years MSIP has been visiting Big Sky and offering an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy a bit of Shakespeare, according to a press release from the Arts Council of Big Sky. The show is supported by Big Sky Resort.
“Ushering Shakespeare’s immortal stories of life, love, and tragedy into a modern era, MSIP is dedicated to preserving the cultural traditions of theatre and literature through live, free performances every summer across the Rocky Mountain West,” MSIP stated on their website. The program focuses on performing in rural areas.
MSIP features 10 professional actors selected by national audition, and their work has been chronicled by Montana PBS, NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and beyond. MSIP received the Montana Governor’s Award for the Arts in 1991. They have not performed “Measure for Measure” since 2000, according to the release.
“Categorized by scholars as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays,’ neither neat comedy nor tragedy, audiences will be captivated by the way this play explores themes of power, class dynamics, and justice through a modern and inclusive lens,” the release stated.
MSIP will be performing in 63 different communities across Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming and North Dakota. With a heart for rural communities of the intermountain West, MSIP has performed 2,250 times to nearly three-quarters of a million people since 1973. This summer marks MSIP’s largest tour to date. The crew will set up and tear down their outdoor set in the same day as they continue sharing this artform from town to town.
Jane Liivoja, event director for the Arts Council, told EBS that this fun and free event is a great “change of pace” from the live music and farmers markets we see every week.
As fans of Shakespeare admire his work 400 years later, the evening may serve as a reminder of the art that helped lay the foundation for the movies and television shows seen today.