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Montana Shakespeare in the Parks announces schedule for 52nd season

The outreach program of MSU’s College of Arts and Architecture will perform Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “The Winter’s Tale" during their summer tour.
49th Season of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Posted at 10:15 AM, Apr 08, 2024

BOZEMAN — Montana Shakespeare in the Parks will travel to 65 communities in five states this summer to perform two classic Shakespeare plays.

For its 52nd season, the traveling theatre group, which is an outreach program of Montana State University’s College of Arts and Architecture, announced the playbill will feature “Hamlet” and “The Winter’s Tale.”

The season kicks off June 12 with a four-night run of “Hamlet” at the MSU Grove, located immediately east of the Duck Pond along South 11th Avenue, followed by “The Winter’s Tale” June 19-22 at the same location. All eight performances begin at 8 p.m. and — like all the troupe’s summer tour stops — are free and open to the public.

“Hamlet,” one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, tells the story of the young prince of Denmark who returns home after his father’s murder and must grapple with the weight of his responsibility to avenge that death, to outmaneuver his scheming uncle and “to be or not to be.”

“I believe that all of Shakespeare’s plays are timeless, but ‘Hamlet’ has a point of view that everybody can identify with,” said Kevin Asselin, MSIP executive artistic director and “Hamlet” director. “I think we are all individually a version of Hamlet and can relate to the character on some level.”

A bit lighter, with more comedy and an abundance of magic, “The Winter’s Tale” spans 16 years during which a jealous king accuses his wife of infidelity and exiles his daughter to Bohemia, where she is raised by shepherds and falls in love with the Bohemian king’s son. It also features Shakespeare’s stage direction “exit, pursued by a bear,” which the MSIP staff thought was fun and relevant to communities in the Northern Rocky Mountains .

“The play is one of Shakespeare’s last, and as such is blessed with a writer who really understood how to manipulate the form to achieve new heights of storytelling,” said Eva Breneman, director of “The Winter’s Tale.”

After the opening shows in Bozeman, the group will hit the road, traveling across Montana with stops in Idaho, North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. They will perform 78 shows in 65 communities, making this MSIP’s largest tour to date.

More than 80% of MSIP’s funding is donation based or comes from grants and sponshorships. Actors and staff, a total of about 50 people, will start rehearsing, building the set and designing costumes next month. Nine of the 11 actors who will perform the two plays this year have performed with MSIP in the past.

To view a complete tour schedule, visit MSIP’s website, www.shakespeareintheparks.org/shakespeare-in-the-parks/.