Shakespeare in the Parks kicks off summer tour in Bozeman - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Shakespeare in the Parks kicks off summer tour in Bozeman

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The cast for Shakespeare in the Parks' Othello prepares their curtain call during rehearsal. June 13, 2018. The cast for Shakespeare in the Parks' Othello prepares their curtain call during rehearsal. June 13, 2018.

Since 1973, fans of the famous playwright and poet William Shakespeare have re-enacted his plays in the popular Shakespeare in the Parks series. Tonight, that series kicked off in Bozeman with Othello.

Shakespeare’s plays, traditionally assigned for high school reading or college literature classes, often feel out of touch for many who haven’t experienced the shows live.

Determined to change that, organizers of the traveling Shakespeare in the Parks show aim to shed new light on the playwright’s stories by providing professional, free, family-friendly theater to communities that might not normally have the chance to see them.

Kevin Asselin, Executive Artistic Director of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and director of the Othello production told Montana Right Now, “We perform here in the valley, that's one experience, but then beyond here we go to places like Hobson, Utica, Montana, which may have a population of about 250 people and they don't have access to cultural performances like this."

The themes in most of Shakespeare’s plays still hold true today, even if they’re partially obscured by the poetic language.

"It really talks about these things that are the most human: jealousy, greed, sorrow, love!” said Charlotte Maye Ellison, who plays Emilia in Othello. “All these things that are I think really relevant even today."

Yao Dogbe, who plays the titular role in the play, continued, "You know, we're also talking about the idea of an interracial relationship. So that is extremely relevant, I think, to today with some of the things that are going on in our society."

And these stories hit home for many people in the area, with some people arriving at Montana State University yesterday to quite literally stake their claim on the grass with blankets and lawn chairs.

Ellison explained, "The audiences are what make it exciting to be an actor here, because everybody loves it so much. Everybody's so excited that you're here. They look forward to it all year, and you can really feel that feedback as an actor when you're onstage."

Asselin continued, saying, "But out here, the ownership of the program from the population of Montana is what makes it incredibly unique and special to the performers, and to us who get to build it for the communities."

Montana Shakespeare will perform 76 times in 61 communities in both Montana and other northwestern states.

If you missed the performance, head to https://www.shakespeareintheparks.org/ to find out when Shakespeare in the Parks will be performing one of their two summer shows, Othello and Love’s Labour’s Lost, in your area.

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