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Kentucky Shakespeare Festival to begin this week, marking its 63rd season

Two actors appear on stage dressed in costume in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" by William Shakespeare.
Stephanie Wolf
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival kicks off its 63rd season on Wednesday with "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival opens its 63rd season this week. Productions of mainstage plays and Shakespearean interpretations run all summer in Louisville's Central Park.

Witches, fairies and tales of love return to Louisville’s Central Park this week as the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival opens its 63rd season.

Central Park will be filled with Shakespearean stories, food trucks and other antics starting May 24. The festival begins with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and will begin rotating through various productions throughout the next 11 weeks. Louisville Public Media is a sponsor of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

Matt Wallace, producing artistic director, said he is grateful to share another season of in-person performances now that federal COVID-19 regulations have ended.

“It's a great time for us to come together as a community and experience the magic of life theater together again all in one place in a beautiful park and a gorgeous outdoor setting,” Wallace said. “My hope is that people will experience our professional productions and feel more comfortable with the arts and be engaged and inspired.”

The production will take place on a new, larger stage that allows for theatrical improvements including flying fairies in “A Midsummer Night's Dream.”

“Personally, it's near and dear to me because it's where I met my wife 22 years ago performing in that ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ Shakespeare stage,” Wallace said.

Witches will return to Central Park in a spooky production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. “Macbeth” opens June 16. Next is “Love’s Labor’s Lost," which is a coming-of-age story set in a 1950's resort. “Love Labor’s Lost" opens June 29.

The Kentucky Shakespeare’s Globe Players will perform “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” The Globe Players are a professional training program for local high school students that culminates in a staged performance. The group’s show opens July 26.

The Louisville Ballet will perform five days of “Shakespeare in Dance,” based on “Macbeth.” The performances will begin on Aug. 2 and conclude this year’s festival Aug. 6.

Select Saturdays will have two late night performances: “Late Night Shakes,” an improv performance and “Globe Arm Wrestling” where Shakespeare characters participate in wrestling matches. Both will begin at 10:30 p.m.

Wallace said the festival will feature more rotating food trucks and pre-show activities and performances than in previous years. Some of the pre-shows include “The Stephen Foster Story”, the Down Syndrome of Louisville’s “Boogie Down Crew” and Drag Daddy Productions’ “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

“2014 was the first year we really opened it up to other groups, and we really wanted to make sure everyone knows they're welcome at the park,” Wallace said.

The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival is free and runs May 24 through Aug. 6.

“We're so excited to have expanded and just such a diverse cross section of our community and a wonderful talent,” Wallace said.

To learn more about the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and their performance schedule, visit: https://kyshakespeare.com.

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