Montana State University

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools begins 2010 fall tour

September 30, 2010

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Montana Shakespeare in the Schools will perform Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" to approximately 15,000 students in communities throughout Montana and Wyoming as a part of its annual fall tour, which begins Oct. 8 and ends in December.

The troupe's 10-week tour is the first of two educational outreach programs offered during this academic year by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, which is based at Montana State University. MONTANA SHAKES!, a tour designed specifically for elementary school children, will tour in the spring.

Joel Jahnke, a professor at MSU since 1976, serves as artistic director for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks as well as for the two educational programs. According to Jahnke, the Shakespeare in the Schools program is in its 18th year of bringing a shortened version of a Shakespeare play to high and middle school students who otherwise would have few opportunities to experience a quality live performance produced by a professional company.

"As with the summer tour, this program places special emphasis on underserved, rural areas," Jahnke said. "

Jahnke directs this production of "Twelfth Night," a play that showcases Shakespeare's comic genius. Jahnke says he plans to direct it from the character Malvolio's point of view, "showing the audience how teasing and 'harmless' jokes can often feel quite differently to those that are the brunt of those jokes." A workshop focusing on that theme will be offered at each school.

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools began in 1993 with two professional actors who performed scenes from Shakespeare's plays with minimal costumes and scenery. It has grown to include an eight-member professional company that offers a full Shakespearean production complete with ornate costumes and scenery as well as a talk back session and a full complement of workshops.

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. 12, at MSU's Black Box Theater, located at 11th and Grant St. The event will feature an after-show catered wine reception and a performance of "Twelfth Night" followed by a "talk back" with the actors and workshop demonstrations by members of the company. Tickets are $25 per person and advance reservations are highly recommended. For more information, call (406) 994-3310.

For the past seven years, Montana Shakespeare in the Schools has been 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 Artists in the Schools program, the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation and Target.

For more information about Shakespeare in the Schools and a performance schedule, visit the Web site at http://www.montana.edu/shakespeare/msis.html, or call (406) 994-3310.

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