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Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to postpone 2020 season

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MSU NEWS SERVICE

BOZEMAN – In consideration of the health and safety of its audiences and artists during the coronavirus pandemic, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks has announced it will postpone its 2020 season to 2021. The two plays scheduled for this season, “Cymbeline” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” will be performed instead in 2021. Kevin Asselin, the company’s executive artistic director, said MSIP is preparing plans to fulfill its mission of delivering professional productions of Shakespeare plays to rural and underserved communities in alternate ways.

“Like so many theater companies across the nation, MSIP’s schedule will have to be dramatically altered in order to protect the health and safety of our community,” Asselin said. “However, we are determined to able to serve our mission. To that end, we are in preparations for a different kind of summer tour.”

Waded Cruzado, president of Montana State University, where the theater company is based, said that while the live summer Montana Shakespeare in the Parks performances will be missed, postponing was the right thing to do during the pandemic.

“We appreciate Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ efforts to share content with us in other ways, including the streaming of archived performances and lesson plans shared with students and teachers,” Cruzado said. “The show will go on – just in different ways.”

In response to cancellations and postponements, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks began creating content for audiences of all ages under the title “MSIP Live.” This includes streaming archival recordings of some of the troupe’s recent plays on Facebook and YouTube every two weeks. Cast members of Montana Shakes!, the program’s troupe for elementary schools are sheltered in place together and have filmed a play, or Virtual Shakes, that has been distributed, along with lesson plans, to teachers and students online in collaboration with MontanaPBS. Classes that have received the play and workshops also have utilized private web-hosted talkbacks with the actors each school day. MSIP is also currently making content for sixth-to 12th-grade audiences at montana.pbslearningmedia.org.

MSIP recently launched the “Go Forth!” campaign to raise money for its online programming and future summer tour plans, while keeping all programs free for audiences. For more information, email development director Sonja Ervin-Bahr at Sonja.ervinbahr@montana.edu.

“Montana Shakespeare in the Parks is the world’s most expansive outreach theater initiative that performs free to the public, integrates with community arts programs and provides schools with a robust educational platform so students may engage with the arts early and often,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Architecture Royce Smith. “We are proud of MSIP’s ongoing commitment to its core mission in the time of COVID-19 and will continue to adapt our programming and initiatives to the changing circumstances impacting the communities we serve.

For more information on MSIP’s response to the coronavirus health crisis or how to participate in Virtual Shakes or “MSIP Live,” contact director of marketing and outreach Susan Miller at susan@montana.edu.

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