About the Festival
William Shakespeare’s canon of 37 plays are performed the world over. From 2000 to 2010 alone, there were more than 1,100 stagings of his work. And there is scant a better perch to see them than in Cedar City at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, held annually with a summer and a fall season.
So while you’re taking advantage of Southern Utah’s national parks and red rock recreational opportunities, spice up your nighttime activities with world-class theater. Themes, characters, and plots that still resonate today come alive at this wonderful festival during a summer and a fall season. There is so much to experience during the Utah Shakespeare Festival — from Shakespearean dramas to contemporary productions to educational opportunities.
In 1962, the Utah Shakespeare Festival produced its first season on a makeshift platform. Leveraging townsfolk and volunteers, the ragtag company built their own props and costumes and performed three of Shakespeare’s plays to an audience of little more than 3,000. Now the Tony Award-winning festival operates with a $7 million budget and attracts nearly 130,000 people to Cedar City.
The festival strives to be a total experience for its patrons, offering seven plays throughout its season, plus free, nightly Greenshow performances, play orientations and production seminars.
Until 2015, actors delivered their charming and classically Shakespearean dialogue decked in full Elizabethan costumes at the open-air, outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The theater so closely resembled Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London that in 1981 the BBC came to Cedar City to film some of its Shakespeare series. Now staged just a few blocks away at the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, performance spaces include the the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre (which feels very similar to the now retired Adams Theatre), the Randall L Jones Theatre and the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre.
The Utah Shakespeare Festival has been recognized widely for its efforts. This includes a Tony Award for America’s Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2000. The following year, it was honored by National Governors Association with the award for Distinguished Service in the Arts for Artistic Production. And the 50th anniversary production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream broadcast by BYUtv won a regional Emmy Award for “best special event coverage, live or edited.”
Indeed, the wonderful plays of Shakespeare, ranging from MacBeth to Julius Caesar to your personal favorite, are not only made accessible and kept alive, but are held on high in Southern Utah.
Story by Austen Diamond