MISSOULA – In June, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks opened its 41st season of providing free, professional theater productions of the classics throughout Montana and four neighboring states. The troupe will return to the University of Montana campus to perform George Farquhar’s “The Recruiting Officer” at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, and Shakespeare’s "Henry V" at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Audiences are encouraged to arrive early with chairs, blankets, a picnic and friends and family to enjoy the evening. Both performances are free and open to the public.
The troupe plans to produce 75 performances in 60 communities in the region. The company features 10 professional actors selected by national auditions who tour without technical assistance to bring live theater to communities primarily in rural areas.
The 41st season will feature one of Shakespeare’s most popular historic plays, “Henry V.” Joel Jahnke, who has been with the company since 1977, is artistic director for this production. During his tenure, he has directed more than 40 productions for MSIP including 19 of Shakespeare’s plays. He also has directed for the Montana Repertory Theatre, Greasy Joan & Company in Chicago and the Magic Circle Mime Company based in Seattle. This will be his second time directing “Henry V” for MSIP.
In the opening speech of “Henry V,” Shakespeare asks the audience, “On your imaginary forces work,” since the obvious limitations of the stage could never adequately depict a battle of several thousand and all the elements of this historic story. The play then is theatrically structured with a narrator who introduces each scene. This theatricality will become the center of focus for the production on the UM Oval. Aside from the actor playing Henry, the other nine actors will take on multiple roles changing costumes and gathering props in full view of the audience.
MSIP is producing “The Recruiting Officer”for the first time. The play is a restoration comedy and will be directed by Associate Artistic Director William Brown. Set in in the early 18th century, the play emphasizes the ‘comedy of manners’ style often associated with this time period. Elegant costumes and beautiful scenery along with original music by award- winning composer Andrew Hansen will complement this comedy.
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks is an outreach program of Montana State University’s College of Arts and Architecture. The Gianforte Family Foundation sponsors MSIP‘s entire summer season. Other major sponsors include Subaru, The National Endowment for the Arts, NorthWestern Energy, Barrick Gold Foundation, Montana Cultural Trust and the Montana Arts Council.
For more information on the Missoula performance, visit the University Center’s website at http://www.umt.edu/uc. For more information on the plays and a complete tour schedule, visit the company’s website at http://www.shakespeareintheparks.org.