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South Dakota Shakespeare Festival Entertained, at a Distance

VERMILLION, S.D. – Despite COVID-19, the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) was able to offer incredible and robust programming to the Vermillion area community and beyond. From June 8-14 the organization presented “South Dakota Shakespeare Festival, at a Distance!” a socially-distanced, week-long celebration of all things Shakespeare. The Festival featured streamed access to SDSF’s productions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2019) and “Taming of the Shrew” (2014), a Red Bird Balloons Shakespearean scavenger hunt, Vermillion Public Library kids’ activities and online learning programs with the National Music Museum.

Additionally, the SDSF created an online resources page that provided links to Shakespeare performances from around the globe, scripts, family activities and other digital resources pertaining to the life, work and world of Shakespeare. In keeping with their values of access and inclusion, all programming was offered at no cost to the public.

Throughout the festival week, over 6,000 people accessed SDSF Facebook posts, connecting audience members to resources, links, productions and programs. Shakespeare programs offered through the Vermillion Public Library reached 419 people and the two streaming productions received 254 impressions and 84 views. Additionally, 10 youth from the Minnehaha Juvenile Detention Center viewed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and participated in a virtual talk-back with SDSF’s executive artistic director, Chaya Gordon-Bland, and artists from the play’s production team, joining from South Dakota, Connecticut and Alaska.

"The SDSF was pleased to present this programming to our communities, utilizing the arts to empower, uplift, inspire and bring people together virtually," said Gordon-Bland. "We thank this season’s partnering organizations, the Vermillion Public Library, Vermillion Cultural Association, Red Bird Balloons, National Music Museum, and Hy-Vee, for helping create and promote this wonderful week for our communities."

In 2021 the SDSF looks forward to coming back strong and reconnecting with audiences, artists and community with an amazing face-to-face festival.

The mission of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is to engage, connect and inspire communities by exploring our shared human experiences through inclusive, professional Shakespeare productions and theatre arts education.

By creating highly accessible work that entertains and enlightens individuals, strengthens communities and increases the artistic offerings of the region, the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival seeks to fulfill an important cultural and educational need throughout the state and Great Plains Region.

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USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News