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South Dakota Shakespeare Festival Offers Comedy, Romance and Music with 'Twelfth Night'

Mia Hilt and Carter Hoffer as twins Viola and Sebastian in the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival Mia Hilt and Carter Hoffer (from L to R) as twins Viola and Sebastian in the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival's production of "Twelfth Night."

VERMILLION, S.D. – The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) presents a live, professional production of “Twelfth Night, or What You Will” in Vermillion’s Prentis Park June 17-20. The production will also be streamed for free online June 24–27 at

Chaya Gordon-Bland, executive artistic director, looks forward to returning to live performances. “This has been such a challenging and stressful time in the world. The SDSF wants to bring joy to people’s lives and help support health, happiness and healing for our communities through theatre,” said Gordon-Bland, who also plays the role of Lady Olivia. “‘Twelfth Night’ is a delightful and uplifting comedy, chock full of music, playful antics, delicious language and nuanced explorations of human relationships.”

Oliver Mayes, having just graduated from the University of South Dakota’s Master of Fine Arts Directing program, directs the production. “Our production embodies qualities of both the Renaissance and our world today, calling to mind the many similarities, as well as the many differences, these two time periods possess.”

He is most excited for the connectivity theatre brings. “The core of theatre is about human connection, so I am thrilled that we are able to bring the Vermillion community a return of live theatre that will allow us to laugh together, sing together and ultimately heal together as a community,” Mayes said. “'Twelfth Night' will leave our audiences filled with joy and laughter, memorable music, and some lingering questions—all wrapped up in a beautiful summer evening outside!”

Performances take place at 7 p.m. June 17–20 in Vermillion’s Prentis Park. One hour before each performance, the SDSF will feature live music and food and beverage vending.

Arts workshops for youth (ages 8-18) are offered on Thursday, June 17. Advance registration for the workshops is recommended through the Vermillion Public Library.

A special Scholars in Conversation event, hosted by USD’s College of Arts and Sciences, will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 19 in Prentis Park. Join Bruce Brandt, Ph.D., (South Dakota State University), Darlene Farabee, Ph.D. (University of South Dakota), Jillian Linster, Ph.D., (University of South Dakota) and Daniel Normandin, Ph.D., (George Mason University) for a discussion of the author, the play, the historical context and other productions.

On Sunday, June 20 at 6 p.m., join the SDSF in Prentis Park for an Arts Community Meet & Greet, co-sponsored by the Vermillion Cultural Association.

The mission of the SDSF is to engage, connect and inspire communities by exploring our shared human experiences through inclusive, professional Shakespeare productions and theatre arts education. Our values encompass access, inclusion, integrity and artistic excellence.

Since 2012, the SDSF has been producing free, world-class Shakespeare in the Park in Vermillion, South Dakota, accompanied by a wide array of education and engagement programming, through partnerships with local and regional schools and organizations. The SDSF values diversity and inclusion in its work, and it seeks to create theatre and build audiences that reflect and nourish the diversity of its communities. Since its inception, and in keeping with our mission, all festival events are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival’s activities for 2021, including dates, times, locations and details, visit or visit their Facebook page.


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