There’s going to be more than a twelfth night of Shakespeare in the Park this summer.
The annual Words Players performances in Rochester parks during Rochesterfest have been augmented by dates in area communities, starting Saturday in La Crosse, Wis.
“It’s a very daunting task,” Daved Driscoll, artistic director of Words Players, said of the expanded schedule.
In addition to new venues, Words Players also is presenting a new performance troupe, the Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company, a core group of experienced young actors.
This year, Words Players is returning to Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” both of which will be presented with music.
“We just did ‘Twelfth Night’ last year and really felt we had found a setting and adaptation that worked really well,” Driscoll said.
As for “Midsummer,” Driscoll said, “It was the first show we did.” Since then, the troupe has gained more experience with Shakespeare and his language.
“We’re a lot more concerned now with telling the story,” he said. “It’s one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. It’s funny yet endearing. It’s a love story gone amok, but it goes amok because of fairies, not because of people being bad.”
The actors and musicians in Words Players’ new SkyVault group have been working on the musical score for “Midsummer” since mid-winter.
Those involved in SkyVault are working in a system modeled after that employed at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, where artists are also administrators, organizers and technicians for the troupe. “We’re giving these actors the full-time experience,” Driscoll said. “They see the business side marching right alongside the artistic side.”
Both “Twelfth Night” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be presented at Soldiers Field, Mayo Park, Silver Lake Park and Central Park during Rochesterfest.
The same shows also will be presented in area communities, with a schedule that runs through Aug. 3.
“We didn’t just pick a city,” Driscoll said. “We wanted to find partners in each of the towns, to make this a part of their community, instead of us coming in and doing this.” The July 23 performance in Red Wing, for example, is hosted by the Red Wing Arts Association.
The complete schedule:
In Rochester parks:
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is presented at 7 p.m. June 20, 2 p.m and 7 p.m. June 21, 3 p.m. June 22, all at Soldiers Field; 7 p.m. June 26 at Mayo Park; 2 p.m. June 29 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 5 all at Silver Lake Park.
“Twelfth Night” is presented at 6 p.m. June 24 and June 25 at Mayo Park; 6 p.m. July 1 at Central Park.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students, $30 for a family.
Shakespeare on Tour:
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is presented at 2 p.m. Saturday at Cameron Park in La Crosse, Wis.; 7 p.m. June 18 at Way Park in Northfield; 7 p.m. June 28 at Lake City Water Ski Days; 8 p.m. July 4 at Florence Park in Stewartville; 7 p.m. July 23 at Central Park in Red Wing; 7 p.m. July 26 at Minnesota Square Park in St. Peter; 7 p.m. July 29 at Sibley Park in Mankato; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at Loring Park Art Festival in Minneapolis.
“Twelfth Night” is presented at 2 p.m. June 28 at Lake City Water Ski Days; 2 p.m. July 4 at Florence Park in Stewartville; 2 p.m. Aug. 3 at Loring Park Art Festival in Minneapolis.
Ticket prices and policies vary by venue.
In addition, Words Players’ apprentice actors will present “Everything You Want to Know About Shakespeare in Under One Hour.” Full performances are at 7 p.m. June 23, 9:30 p.m. June 27 and 7 p.m. June 28, all at Words Players Theatre, 14 Fourth St. S.W. Short skits will be presented at 6:45 p.m. June 24 and 25 at Mayo Park.
Admission is free.