New Theatre Festival Has Local Roots – and Offers a Fresh Approach to Shakespeare
Announcing Shakespeare in the Woods (SitW), a new outdoor classical theatre festival scheduled to run August 22 to September 8 of this year, hosted by the Northshire Civic Center at Riley Rink in Manchester. SitW’s inaugural season will include ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Taming of the Shrew.’
“Shakespeare in the Woods is a celebration of classical text through a thought-provoking, unconventional lens, incorporating the wondrous offerings of southern Vermont’s natural landscape,” states Katharine Maness, a native of Pawlet. Maness has returned to Vermont to establish this engaging arts opportunity after spending over a decade building her acting career in New York City. Maness is committed to creating a professional quality festival that feels like part of the community. SitW will engage with the community beyond performances, is for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, and is built on the belief that the arts are an integral part of society that should be accessible to everyone regardless of geographical location or socioeconomic standing.
Maness knows that it will take public interest and contributions to ensure that this vision is achieved. With the season goal of $50,000, public outreach began in January. As of early April, SitW has raised a fifth of its budget with over $10,000 in donations from early local business supporters including the Northshire Civic Center as venue host, the Northshire Bookstore and Ye Olde Tavern. SitW has also seen support from over a dozen individuals committed to supporting homegrown arts. Every donation helps to ensure that the cast and crew receive fair wages for their time and hard work, quality of production, stage and tech materials, housing and transportation, and promotional work to gain visibility for the festival.
In addition to performances, there will be free workshops for area children, where they can experience first-hand what goes into making theatre. “This educational outreach is an important aspect of the festival,” says Maness. “Because it brings the concept of the working world of theatre into their reality. I was 11 years old the first time I ever performed Shakespeare at Long Trail School’s summer camp, and that experience created an everlasting bond and passion for the material. I believe that providing kids access early on is essential to building a sustainable future for the arts right here at home.” Maness hopes that the community-at-large will join her commitment of investing in the future growth of the performing arts in Vermont.
Shakespeare in the Woods is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Shakespeare in the Woods must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Tickets will be available later this spring. They are $20 for general admission and $12 for children 12 and under.
For more information on performance dates, further information about the festival itself, and how to become a supporter, visit shakespeareinthewoodsvt.com.