Shakes Alive

Since the Colorado Shakespeare Festival is one of the top Shakespeare festivals in the country -- and one of only seven that has staged every last one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays -- the people who put together the annual program know they’re taking a chance every time they move beyond the Bard. “Shakespeare will always be our gold standard for excellence in writing,” explains CSF’s Mell McDonnell, “but starting in 2006, we made a serious commitment to extending our repertoire beyond Shakespeare.”

This season’s lineup features five offerings, including three of Shakespeare’s plays and one very condensed version of Shakespeare: Hamlet opens July 2; Much Ado About Nothing opens July 11; To Kill a Mockingbird opens July 18; The Two Gentlemen of Verona opens July 19; and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) opens July 24.

“I think Hamlet is going to be a very interesting production,” McDonnell says, “because it’s the one play that almost everybody who speaks English has seen at least once, so that means that most people have a sort of Hamlet in their head, the way it ought to be. And our director says we need to strip away those tried-and-true ideas and just look at the play again.” The season’s closing production should prove just as enlightening. “It’s all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in less than two hours,” explains McDonnell. “You can make a comedy out of a tragedy just by speeding it up.”

The plays are staged at the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre or the University Theatre Mainstage on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus through August 15; for a full schedule and more information, call 303-492-0554 or visit
July 1-Aug. 15, 2009


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