For nearly four decades, the Houston Shakespeare Festival (HSF) has dazzled audiences with professional productions of the Bard’s masterpieces. Now, the popular summer festival will take Shakespeare buffs behind the curtain for an inside look at how these plays are produced.
The HSF Backstage Pass is an educational program offering adult theatergoers an in-depth journey into the world of professional theater. Participants will meet the festival’s professional acting company, directors, designers, dramaturgs and production teams. They also will observe how the shows are prepared, read and discuss plays with stage professionals, and of course, witness two of Shakespeare’s greatest works, “Hamlet” and “The Comedy of Errors.”
“The Houston Shakespeare Festival at Miller Outdoor Theatre is a city tradition,” said veteran theater educator Amy Steele Wernig, who is coordinating the activities for Backstage Pass. “This program will further connect it to the community by allowing Shakespeare fans and theater enthusiasts an opportunity to learn more about these plays and the festival itself.”
A schedule of Houston Backstage Pass activities is as follows:
- 2 p.m., July 7, 14, 21, 28 at UH’s School of Theatre & Dance: Workshops, artist/dramaturg talks
- 6 p.m., Aug 1 at Miller Outdoor Theatre: Theater Tour
- 7:30 p.m., Aug. 4 at Miller Outdoor Theatre: “The Comedy of Errors” Pre-show and Post-show Experience – Participants can view the play’s pre-show preparations and stay after the show for a talkback with actors.
- 7:30 p.m., Aug. 11 at Miller Outdoor Theatre: “Hamlet” Pre-show and Post-show Experience – Participants view the play’s preparations and stay after the play for a talkback with actors.
Prices for HSF Backstage Pass are $300 per participants, $525 for couples and $275 per person for groups of 8 or more. To reserve a space, call 713-743-2929. For additional details, visit http://www.uh.edu/class/theatre-and-dance/community-programs/houston-shakespeare-fest/backstage-pass/index.php.
HSF plays are performed at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park (6000 Hermann Park Dr.). HSF performances are free and begin at 8:30 p.m. Dates are as follows:
- “Hamlet” (directed by Steve Pickering) – Aug. 3, 5, 7, 9, 11
- “Comedy of Errors” (directed by Paul Steger) – Aug. 4, 8, 10, 12
Guest artists include noted stage and screen stars Mark Metcalf (“Animal House,” “Mad Men,” “Seinfeld”) and UH alumna Cindy Pickett (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” NBC’s “St. Elsewhere,” “The Client List”). In “Hamlet,” Metcalf will star as Claudius, and Pickett will play Gertrude. Both actors will have supporting roles in “The Comedy of Errors.”
Backstage Pass complements the HSF Summer Conservatory, which offers high school students an opportunity to learn acting, voice and movement from theater professionals.
To learn more about the 2012 Houston Shakespeare Festival, visit http://www.houstonfestivalscompany.com/hsf/.
Since 1975, the Houston Shakespeare Festival has attracted thousands of Houstonians to Miller Outdoor Theatre for free performances of the Bard's timeless classics. HSF productions have featured rising talents and esteemed stage veterans. Several students who contributed their talents to HSF have gone on to successful careers on stage and screen. These include Dennis Quaid, Brett Cullen and Jim Parsons. Among the visiting artists who have participated in HSF was Oscar-nominated actor Dan O'Herlihy, who played the title role in the festival's production of "King Lear." Regional star Ken Ruta also contributed his talents to HSF, starring as Prospero in "The Tempest." Last year, HSF featured stage and screen actor Seth Gilliam (HBO’s “The Wire”) in the title role of “Othello, the Moor of Venice.” Directing the play was noted stage professional Leah Gardiner.