William Shakespeare’s plays have stood the test of time. His works have been in print for centuries, and his plays have been adapted to everything from movies to musicals to YouTube videos. Still, the best way to experience Shakespeare is as he intended — on the stage. These four festivals held right in the United States are renowned for their Shakespeare performances.
Folger Shakespeare Library
Located in Washington, D.C., the Folger Shakespeare Library is not just a performance venue. It is one of the world’s premiere resources for fans and scholars of the Bard. Its library includes a digital replica of the famous First Folio as well as other materials, such as the only printed copy of the play Titus Andronicus. The Folger Theater also stages an array of Shakespeare’s more famous works each year from September to June.
The Utah Shakespeare Festival
One of the most famous Shakespeare festivals in the West, The Utah Shakespeare Festival is celebrated by both critics and theatergoers for innovative and creative productions. In fact, in 2000 this festival received a Tony Award for America’s Outstanding Regional Theatre, so you know you’re bound to see some great performances. There are three theatres to choose from on the campus of Southern Utah University, located in Cedar City. The plays performed on stage vary each year, and the season lasts from June through October.
St. Louis Shakespeare
Situated in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, St. Louis is known for its natural landscapes and rich history. One of its lesser-known attractions is the outdoor performances put on by St. Louis Shakespeare. Founded in 1984, St. Louis Shakespeare stages outdoor performances of the Bard’s more famous works. Late spring and summer season performances take place in Forest Park and have become a local institution. Locals arrive early and bring blankets and food, contributing to a festive mood. The performances are lively and even include warm-up acts prior to the play.
The American Shakespeare Center
While there are a number of replicas of the famous Globe Theater, the Staunton, VA, American Shakespeare Center features something unique — a recreation of the Blackfriars Theater, the legendary winter haunt of Shakespeare’s own acting troupe, the King’s Men. The Center also boasts a number of imaginative programs, such as a theater summer camp for college-bound youth designed to introduce Shakespeare’s works to a larger audience.
Shakespeare’s works hold a universal appeal and remain endlessly captivating. Whether painstakingly accurate or wildly updated to the present, the Bard’s characters retain their ability to amuse and enchant an audience. See them for yourself without even leaving the country.
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