USD Theatre and South Dakota Shakespeare Festival Embark on Educational Tour

Photo from Wagner SDSF visit. 2015 Members of the SDSF host a workshop in Wagner in 2015.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre and the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival are in the middle of their second biennial educational tour of South Dakota.

Fourteen USD Theatre majors in theatre professor Chaya Gordon-Bland’s Acting Shakespeare class will be taking their creative work on the road as a community-based learning and research project embedded in the course.

The tour completed its first leg hosting performances at the Wagner Community School and Minnehaha Juvenile Detention Center this week. Next week, they will visit the Flandreau Indian School. The tour is designed to directly reach young people in South Dakota at their own schools and students who may not normally have access to performances of Shakespeare or live theatre arts. The USD students will present five scenes from “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” and “Julius Caesar,” the plays that the young people have been studying in their own classes.

Each stop on the tour will also include workshops taught by USD students as part of their service-learning project. The visit to Flandreau Indian School will be part of a day-long cultural exchange program in which the Flandreau students will share music, dance and traditional Native games with the touring group. This project is a significant component of SDSF’s growing education and outreach programming, engaging youth and adults from across the state with the wonders of Shakespeare and live theatre arts. It is expected that the tour will reach approximately 175-200 students.

This project is funded in part by USD’s Center for Academic and Global Engagement, with matching funds provided by USD Theatre and SDSF. This support has allowed the tour to be brought to these three schools entirely for free.

The tour is directed by Chaya Gordon-Bland, associate professor of theatre at USD and the managing director of the SDSF. Rebecca Bailey, who recently received her MFA in Directing from USD and directed SDSF’s 2017 summer production "The Comedy of Errors," serves as co-director. Associate professor of theatre Scott Mollman is the production manager and assistant professor of theatre Caitlin Quinn is the costume designer. Acting in the tour are USD students Tabitha Bass, Daniel Frye, Tess Jones, Alyeska Krull, Katie Meirose, Shekendra Morgan, Alex Newcomb-Weiland, Isaac Otterman, Becca Schuster, Rachel Smith, Alexondrea ThongVanh, Andrea Tostado, Austin Vetter and Drake Zuschlag.

The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) is a professional nonprofit theatre company, supported in collaboration with USD’s College of Fine Arts and Department of Theatre. The mission of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is to increase the cultural, artistic and educational offerings of the state of South Dakota and surrounding regions through professional Shakespeare performances and arts education events delivered in a lively and accessible format.

For more information, please visit the SDSF website.

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