The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) was founded in 2012 to provide insight into the world of Shakespeare and increase the cultural, artistic and educational offerings of the state of South Dakota and surrounding regions, in a lively and accessible format.

Festival co-founder and managing artistic director and associate theatre professor at USD, Chaya Gordon-Bland, hopes the festival will provide inspiration for all those who attend.

“I would want attendees to have a great time and feel inspired,” said Gordon-Bland. “We hope we can create a lightbulb moment where parents decide to sign up their child for a painting class, buy a ticket to a music concert, or just plan to come back to the Festival. We want people to realize how the arts can enhance their life.”

This year’s production includes an all-star artistic team of seasoned professionals hired from competitive national and regional markets, combined with younger professionals drawn from USD’s theatre program. “This year’s company is comprised of some really amazing talent,” said Gordon-Bland. “We have gathered actors from New York City, Pittsburgh, the Twin Cities, and locally, to bring to life this madcap play.”

A special Scholars’ Roundtable Discussion, hosted by USD’s College of Arts & Sciences, will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, in Prentis Park, with three world-class scholars and Shakespeare lovers—Bruce Brandt, Jillian Linster, and Darlene Farabee. On Sunday, June 11, following the 4 p.m. matinee performance, audiences are invited to stay for a discussion and talk-back with the SDSF artistic company.

In addition to their mainstay programming, the SDSF offers a robust array of workshops and outreach programming during the summer and throughout the year. On Thursday and Friday, June 8 and 9, the Festival hosts a series of free arts workshops for youth. This summer, the SDSF is also partnering with the Sanford Senior Care Center, Vermillion’s SESDAC, Flandreau Indian School, and USD’s Upward Bound, offering special programming to engage a wider audience base with the benefits and joys of Shakespeare and live theatre. “While our production in Prentis Park is the centerpiece of the Festival, our education and outreach work is the heart and soul of the company. We are deeply dedicated to the concept that you really can change the world, in a positive way, through live theatre arts,” said Gordon-Bland.

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 event is free and open to the public. Free will donations are encouraged.

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