Shakespeare in the Schools perform Two Gentlemen of Verona

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools will perform The Two Gentlemen of Verona during its 2013 fall tour. The production will be in Conrad on Nov. 21 and will perform at CHS.

Celebrating its 21st season with this production, Montana Shakespeare in the Schools will perform Shakespeare’s boisterous comedy to nearly 12,000 students in communities throughout Montana and Wyoming as a part of its annual fall tour, which began Oct. 11.

The 10-week tour is the first of two educational outreach programs being offered by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, which is based at Montana State University, during this academic year.The fall tour will conclude in late December. MONTANA SHAKES!, a tour designed specifically for elementary school children, will tour in the spring of 2014.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is thought to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays.It follows the riotous exploits of Valentine and Proteus, best friends who test the bonds of loyalty and honor when they fall for the same girl.Much humor and romance ensues while the different sets of lovers, and their servants, try to untangle the mess.

In order to accommodate schools’ scheduling needs, productions are trimmed to 75 minutes. There will also be workshops on relevant themes in the play, Shakespearian verse and stage combat.

Susan Dickerson, director of educational program for Montana Shakespeare in the Schools, said the goal of the troupe is to bring live, professional performances of Shakespeare’s plays to middle and high schools across Montana and Wyoming, emphasizing rural, underserved areas.

“Because of Shakespeare in the Schools’ commitment to rural outreach, SIS was able to reach nearly 25 percent of all high school students in Montana in 2012,” she said.

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools has tapped Kevin Asselin, professor of acting and head of movement for Oklahoma City University, to direct the production.Asselin is an award-winning director, actor and certified fight choreographer.Kevin is also an alumnus of all three tours for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks; the summer tour, the Schools and the SHAKES! programs.

Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and Schools resident designer Tom Watson is again on board to create a dynamic traveling set that will work in the varied spaces the production plays.Costume designer Claudia Boddy returns for her fourth season with SIS with costumes from the glittering 1920’s.Michael Gonring, a beloved alumnus of three Shakespeare in the Schools tours, is company manager and will be playing the canine-owning clown Launce.

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 rich, originally designed costumes and scenery, as well as a talk back session and a full complement of workshops.

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools is funded in part by the Montana Arts Council: Artists in Schools and Communities and the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation.

Shakespeare in the School’s annual Elise Event, a fundraiser named in honor of sponsor Elise Donohue, will be held at 6:15 p.m. Nov. 16, in MSU’s Black Box Theater located at 11th and Grant St., Bozeman. The event will feature live preshow music by gypsy jazz quartette Montana Manouche, the performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona followed by an intimate talk back with the actors and designers. A catered wine reception will round out the evening’s festivities. Tickets are $40 per person. Advance reservations are highly recommended and may be made by calling 994-3310.

For more information about Shakespeare in the Schools, visit the website at shakespeareintheparks.org or call (406) 994-3901.