Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival Offers Shakespeare by the Sea 30th Anniversary Production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream Online in August

A grant from PNC ArtsAlive brings Festival’s new Sharing Shakespeare program to entire community.

The Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival’s annual Shakespeare by the Sea has been a summer staple for the past twenty-nine consecutive years.  Approaching its 30th anniversary production this July, the Festival has announced “the show will go on” via its new Sharing Shakespeare program, sponsored by a grant from PNC ArtsAlive with additional support from generous donors. The professional, videotaped performance of William Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM will be available online in August via the Festival’s website: pbshakespeare.org.

“While we had an entire, site-specific plan proposed to continue our Festival tradition in the park this summer, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our area, it was determined that even limited-number gatherings would not be recommended at this time,” explains Shakespeare Festival founder and Executive Producer, Kermit Christman.

Fortunately, the Shakespeare Festival had recently received a grant from the PNC ArtsAlive foundation to expand the performances into the virtual world. The non-profit organization had begun the program, originally intended for in-classroom use, with the creation of a study guide and supporting education video.

“We are so very blessed to be able to continue our mission of bringing the magic of Shakespeare’s works to the entire community, regardless of socio-economic status through this grant, and the support of long-time partners and an angel donor,” says Festival co-producer Elizabeth Dashiell. “While the program is originally intended for in-classroom use, we will be able to offer the filmed production to the community at large. It isn’t the same experience as being in the outdoor setting, but it allows us to keep the arts alive in Palm Beach County during this public health crisis.”

Festival producers are planning on virtual watch parties once the film is edited, encouraging families and couples to gather their favorite blanket, chairs, picnic baskets and coolers and enjoying the show outdoors to recreate the Shakespeare Festival experience while continuing safe, social distancing.

Included in the online Sharing Shakespeare page is a study guide, designed to meet numerous Sunshine State Standards for in-classroom or at-home usage, along with the first supplemental video from Festival Artistic Director, Col. Trent Stephens.

“We had planned on having the videos shot when Trent came down for auditions,” explains Dashiell. “Instead, due to the shutdown, Trent created it on his own, using Shakespearean performers to supplement the acting scenes.” The current video discusses the usage of iambic pentameter and features professional actors Kyle Schnack, Karen Stephens, Courtney Poston and Matthew Connor Paszkiet.

“Every arts organization right now has had to adjust to the current situation through creative ways, and we are happy to report that this summer’s show has been cast and rehearsals are underway,” continues Dashiell.  “We look forward to next summer when we will be able to welcome everyone to join us once more for the live production. Until then, we invite educators, parents, students and fans to enjoy the full educational and entertainment opportunity the Sharing Shakespeare program offers. The Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival offers its professional productions free of charge each year, thanks to on-site donations, grants and sponsors. Due to the cuts in arts funding this year, and the loss of on-site donations and sponsors, we ask for those who are able to consider an online donation via the Shakespeare Festival website.”

Sharing Shakespeare is made possible from a grant from PNC ArtsAlive. Additional sponsors for this summer’s virtual production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM include Lisa Calberg and Frank Cona, Publix Supermarket Charities, and an anonymous “angel” donor.

PNC ArtsAlive is a multi-million dollar initiative through the PNC Foundation designed to support the visual and performing arts.