Shakespeare fest to stage 'Much Ado About Nothing'
Flint Hills Shakespeare Festival wants to be premier Kansas event
Posted: September 21, 2013 - 4:32pm
What: A Shakespeare festival featuring the production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at 7:30 p.m., artisan demonstrations, puppet show, games, music and food
When: Friday through Sept. 29 and Oct. 4-6. Gates and booths open at 5 p.m.
Where: Sir William’s Hollow, on the grounds of St. Mary’s College in St. Marys.
Cost: Wristbands, good for each night of the festival, are $10 for adults, $7 for students, $15 for couples and $25 for families. Parking is free.
By Jan Biles
ST. MARYS — A few years ago, St. Marys businessman Ben Moats and his friends Eric Stevenson and Tim Akers, with whom Moats had worked at The Columbian Theater in Wamego, started talking about establishing a classical arts theater.
They eventually founded the Flint Hills Shakespeare Festival, a six-day outdoor event that features the production of a Shakespearean play, a variety of artisan demonstrations, a puppet show, pub, food and live musical entertainment.
“Shakespeare is the highest form of theater, so why not start there?” said Moats, president of the festival.
The festival was relocated four years ago to St. Marys, and Moats and others began working to make it the premier Shakespeare festival in Kansas.
This year’s festival is Friday through Sept. 29 and Oct. 4-6. Gates open at 5 p.m. “Much Ado About Nothing,” one of Shakespeare’s comedies, will be staged at 7:30 p.m. each night.
For the first two seasons, Moats said, the festival was at the town’s public golf course. Today, it is set up in a wooded area called Sir William’s Hollow, which features about 30 booths and an outdoor stage.
“We grew to the point we needed a permanent location, so St. Mary’s College offered to let us set up there,” he said, explaining the festival rents the land and is a separate entity from the college. “With a permanent location, things have changed a lot. People realized we were serious.”
About 1,500 people attended the debut festival, he said. Last year, nearly 3,500 people came through the festival’s gates.
The festival’s first production was “Taming of the Shrew,” followed by “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and then “Comedy of Errors.” This year’s “Much Ado About Nothing” will be staged under the helm of artistic director Andrew Clarendon, a former professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., who teaches at St. Mary’s College.
The comedy is about two pairs of lovers: One couple shares a disdain of love, while the other couple love each other deeply. The villain of the play tricks the first couple into exclaiming their love for each other, while he splits up the second couple by spreading gossip that the bride-to-be has been unfaithful.
The production staff includes Philomena Quenneville, costume design; Brigitte Parks, makeup; Rebecca and Katey McCarthy, stage managers; Paula Borgerding, assistant stage manager; Stevenson, technical director; Tim Bryan, sound and lighting director; Eric Manougian, filmographer; Emily Baer, festival coordinator; Adriel Moats, choreographer; and Nicole Cabler and Melanie Barr, fundraising.
Moats said the festival is a “huge effort” that is successful with the help of up to 100 volunteers.
“We can always use more volunteers giving more time,” he said. “We want to grow into a premier Kansas event, so we need corporate and community involvement to do that.”
Moats said they eventually want to build a village on the festival grounds.
“We want to be like Silver Dollar City, but with an Elizabethan or Tudor feel,” he said.
Jan Biles can be reached at (785) 295-1292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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