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South Dakota Shakespeare Festival Fosters Understanding

June 1, 2024

“Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer.”  –Act III, Scene ii, The Merchant of Venice

Merry cheer will be abundant at the 2024 South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) in Vermillion’s Prentis Park. The annual event, sponsored in part by SDHC, is scheduled June 2-9. A full-scale production of The Merchant of Venice, featuring a cast of 12 actors, will be performed at 7 pm nightly June 6-9.

Other scheduled activities include Bark With the Bard (a 5K dog run), a Shakespeare trivia contest, a community free movie night (with a Shakespearean theme), talk-backs after each performance, workshops for youth and community members, and panel discussions.

Since 2012, SDSF has produced free, world-class Shakespeare in the Park and diverse education and engagement programming through partnerships with area schools and organizations. The organization’s mission is “to engage, connect, and inspire communities by exploring our shared human experiences through inclusive, professional Shakespeare productions and theater arts education.”

Rebecca Bailey is Interim Artistic Director for SDSF, a position she accepted in 2021. Bailey received her MFA in directing at the University of South Dakota (USD) in 2016. She serves as the Education Program Director for the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault, where she uses theatrical techniques in training victim advocates and other first responders. She is passionate about using theatre to energize, entertain, and bring forth conversations about the world around us.

“Bringing together this creative team, this story, and our audiences is the right conversation, the right time, and the right vehicle to remind us to connect, to laugh, and to value the universal humanity we share,” Bailey said.

USD Associate Professor of Theatre Chaya Gordon-Bland is Founding Artistic Director for SDSF. When asked what inspired her to assume this role, Gordon-Bland stated, “This is a crucial moment for examining prejudice and bigotry, and facilitating honest and meaningful dialogue about how we can work together to foster understanding, respect, appreciation, civility, and true bonds across cultures and communities. Theatre as a whole and this play are uniquely situated to help us navigate through such challenging issues and conversations.”

For more information, visit 2024 South Dakota Shakespeare Festival or contact SDHC at (605) 688-6113.

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