Montana State University

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools to begin fall tour

September 18, 2009


Montana Shakespeare in the Schools will perform "Romeo and Juliet" at schools in 50 communities in Montana and Wyoming during its annual fall tour, which begins in October. Photo courtesy of Montana Shakespeare in the Schools.   High-Res Available

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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Montana Shakespeare in the Schools will perform "Romeo and Juliet" to approximately 15,000 students in 50 communities in Montana and Wyoming during its annual fall tour, which begins in October.

The 10-week tour of the school outreach program of the Montana Shakespeare in the Parks company based at Montana State University begins in early October and ends in December.

Joel Jahnke, a professor at MSU since 1976, serves as artistic director for Montana Shakespeare in the Schools as well as Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. He said it is the 17th year for the popular school program that brings a Shakespeare production to many students who otherwise would have few opportunities to see one.

"As with the summer tour, the program places special emphasis on underserved, rural areas," Jahnke said. "Nearly 70 percent of the schools that we will perform in this year will be in communities with a population of less than 5,000."

Jahnke said that of all of Shakespeare's plays, "Romeo and Juliet" is arguably the most popular and has been adapted into musicals and films from generation to generation. The production will be directed by William Brown, an award-winning director from Chicago.

"The stress of peer and family pressure set against the backdrop of a young couples' love is as timely now as ever," Brown has said of the play. "I feel very strongly that the play becomes more relevant for young people when they experience it in a live performance."

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools began in 1993 with two actors who performed scenes from Shakespeare's plays with minimal costumes and scenery. It has grown to a seven-member professional company that offers a full Shakespearean production complete with ornate costumes and scenery.

Shakespeare in the School's annual Elise Event, a fundraiser named in honor of sponsor Elise Donohue, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at MSU's Black Box Theater located at 11th and Grant St. The event will feature an after-show catered wine reception and a 75-minute performance of "Romeo and Juliet," followed by a "talk back" with the actors and workshop demonstrations with members of the Montana Shakespeare in the Schools company. Tickets are $25 per person and advance reservations are highly recommended. For more information, call (406) 994-3310.

For the six consecutive year, Montana Shakespeare in the Schools is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts "Shakespeare in American Communities: Shakespeare for a New Generation." Additional funding support comes from the MSU College of Arts and Architecture, the Montana Arts Council; Artist in the Schools program, the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation and Target.

For more information about Shakespeare in the Schools and its performance schedule, go to http://www2.montana.edu/shakespeare/msis.html or call (406) 994-3310.

Contact: Kathy Jahnke, (406) 994-1220, kjahnke@montana.edu