Shakespeare in the Schools tour to perform at CHS

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools will perform Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” to nearly 12,000 students in communities throughout Montana and Wyoming during its annual fall tour.

The 10-week tour that begins Oct. 12 and concludes in December is the first of two educational outreach programs being offered during this academic year by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, which is based at Montana State University.

According to their schedule, “Macbeth” is scheduled to be performed Dec. 6 here in Conrad.

Joel Jahnke, MSU theater professor since 1976 who serves as artistic director for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and its two educational programs, said the focus of the Shakespeare in the Schools program is to bring a shortened version of a Shakespeare play to high school and middle school students who otherwise would have few, if any, opportunities to experience a quality live performance produced by a professional company.

In order to accommodate the schools’ scheduling needs, Montana Shakespeare in the School’s productions of “Macbeth” will be trimmed to 75 minutes.

There will also be workshops on relevant themes in the play, Shakespearian verse and stage combat.

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

“Many of the schools we visit have a population that is even smaller than the communities we serve during the summer months, and the company travels an average of 800 miles per week to get there.”

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools began in 1993 with two professional actors performing 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.

“Macbeth” is directed by the Chicago-based Kevin Fox. Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and Schools resident designer Tom Watson has created a dynamic set that is evocative of popular graphic novel art, and costume designer Claudia Boddy outfits the company in Gothic-Celtic creations.

Mark Kuntz, the veteran of 17 tours with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Shakespeare in the Schools and SHAKES!, will be playing the title role of Macbeth.

This will be Kuntz’ final tour for the company, as well as his last as company manager.

For the past nine 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 Montana Arts Council Artists in the Schools and Communities program, The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Foundation and the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation.

Editor’s Note: For more information about Shakespeare in the Schools, contact Susan Dickerson at 406-994-3033, or visit the website at shakespeareintheparks.org .