Although the Utah Shakespeare Festival is not cancelled for this 2020 season, USF announced some changes on April 13.
COVID-19 has impacted the organization in a huge way, and USF announced that changes had to be made not only to the schedule of the season, but to the way some of the plays are going to be performed.
Other changes include “producing fewer shows, modifying the schedule to start later in the summer and altering show designs,” according to the news release on bard.org. They also are planning to implement more hand-sanitizing stations, increase cleaning and strategically seat the audience to help keep everyone safe.
USF will continue to closely monitor the situation and will adjust as time goes on. As of right now, the festival plans to reduce technical show elements to help mitigate health risks.
By limiting the building of sets, props, lights and costumes for each show, the festival will now, more than ever, focus on “innovating storytelling and powerful acting” to get their stories across.
USF’s artistic director, Brian Vaughn has a positive outlook on the changes being made.
“By embracing the less-is-more philosophy, we will showcase the beauty of language, the impact of the story and the resonance of life under a lens that will celebrate the heart of theater,” Vaughn said.
Although some technical show elements will be removed, USF will make up for this in a different way. Additional content will go up on their website, including behind the scenes content which will allow audiences the opportunity to see how the shows come to life, without the health risk of being there physically.
Southern Utah University’s President Scott L. Wyatt worked with the festival to help come up with solutions.
“This might be the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s most important season. While our community and the world moves beyond COVID-19, we understand the value of quality theater, and the arts generally, in healing hearts and bringing us all back together,” Wyatt said.
Although some of the lineup has been cancelled due to circumstances, USF is still excited to announce the remaining plays.
As of now, performances will begin on July 9, starting with “The Pirates of Penzance.” Backstage tours, play orientations, play seminars, and production seminars will also begin on this day.
“Richard III” will begin on July 20, along with the Greenshow, followed by “Pericles” on July 21. “The Comedy of Errors” will debut on July 22.
In addition to these new plays, USF will also show “Every Brilliant Thing” again from 2019’s season. All shows will run through Sept. 5.
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photos by: Utah Shakespeare Festival