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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Shakespeare festival to stage ‘Julius Ceaser,’ ‘Cymbeline’

It was while attending various fine art productions more than 30 years ago at the theater that former director of the UH School of Theatre and Dance Sidney Berger realized something was missing. To Berger, there was "a vacuum at Miller Outdoor Theatre: the spoken word."

The creation of the Houston Shakespeare Festival 35 years ago has since filled that vacuum and has become a "summer staple" for Houstonians.

The casual atmosphere recreates the "ambiance that Shakespeare had" and brings to life 500-year-old plays for "a lot of people that have never seen a Shakespeare play in their lives," Berger said.

The festival, produced in part by UH, also provides a "real-life model" for theater students at the University, Berger said. By participating in the productions, students are given a great learning experience as well as the sense of professional expectation. Auditions are open to all, and this year’s festival will feature about six or seven current or former UH students.

The two plays being produced are the well-known and often quoted Julius Caesar, and the rarely staged Cymbeline. Directed by Carolyn Boone, Cymbeline is so rarely staged that, to Berger’s knowledge, it has never been produced in Houston. The play follows the misadventures of Imogen, daughter of King Cymbeline, who is accused of adultery and goes into hiding.

Berger directs Julius Caesar, the story of the betrayal of Roman dictator Caesar by his friend Brutus.

Every show begins at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 1 through 10 at Miller Outdoor Theatre, and the plays show on alternate days. Julius Caesar will open this year’s festival, and Cymbeline will follow the next day. Seating is based on a first come, first served basis, with either seating on the hill (bring a blanket or some lawn chairs) or covered seating. Tickets are required for the covered seating and can be obtained at Miller Outdoor Theatre’s box office from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as one hour before each performance.

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