STERLING – The Bard is back.
And he’s brought another classic.
Sauk Valley Community College and Woodlawn Arts Academy once again have teamed up to present Shakespeare in the Park.
More than 20 local actors will perform “Romeo and Juliet,” the seminal tale of romance and tragedy, over two weekends, June 21-23 and June 28-30.
Performances are at 6:30 every night in Hoover Park, next to the school at 3807 Woodlawn Road. Admission is free.
Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs and may bring food and beverages. Water, as well as a cheese and cracker plate or a dessert plate, also will be available for purchase.
The performances are intended to introduce all ages and audiences to Shakespeare, said Sauk theater director Anna Kurtz.
“[Shakespeare] is inaccessible sometimes,” she said. “It’s our job to make it accessible.”
The casual environment helps make people comfortable with the Bard, Kurtz said. Many people last year, the first year of Shakespeare in the Park, walked away enlightened, she said.
“So many of his works are iconic, especially ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” she said. “His works are the basis of a lot of [modern] storylines and pop-culture references.”
Woodlawn and Sauk also will offer Shakespearience!, a 2-hour Shakespeare camp during each performance for children 12 and younger. Students will learn about the playwright, play theater games and work on abbreviated scenes or skits. They also will put on a performance after the adult production. Cost is $10 per camper; discounts for families with multiple campers are available.
In case of rain, the performances will be in the performing arts center at Woodlawn.
Call Woodlawn, 815-626-4278, or Sauk’s theater department, 815-835-6366, for more information.
“Experiencing [Shakespeare] outdoors is the way that it’s supposed to be done,” Kurtz said. “The actors do their part, but the weather plays its own role, too.
“‘Romeo and Juliet’ starts out very comedic, and then, as the show goes on and the sun goes down, it gets darker until the inevitable, tragic end. We rely on that natural effect to add a lot to the experience.”
The directors: Anna Kurtz and Rachel Wirsing.
The cast: Tim Boles, Suzie Branch, Hannah Matheney, Emily Sheaffer, Kevin Tumleson, Aaron Berogan, Sam Twining, Manuel Cervantes, Ed Davis, Alex Rodriguez, Tori Duffin, Eli Murray, Nathan Green, Ryan Elmendorf, Peter Balser, Kraig Schweiss, Wesley Blankenbehler, Doug Smith, Clarissa Worcester, Jordan Lumbard and Dallas Adams.
The production team: Costume designers Faith Morrison and Ashley Frye; set designer Tim Boles; props designer Kaitlyn Hailey; stage manager Anna Micale; assistant stage manager Michael Farringer; fight director Matthew McKay; fight captain Aaron Berogan; and movement coach Monique Elmendorf.