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Shakespeare revisits Syracuse

The Syracuse Shakespeare Festival brings the playwright's work to Syracuse University students

"To die, to sleep, or just to take a nap and hope you wake up in time for dinner to make guacamole for 12 because you promised that you would."  -Actor Michael Carroll in "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged"

Children's cartoons. Curse words. And...Shakespeare? 

Ronnie Bell, founder of the 9-year-old Syracuse Shakespeare Festival, is hoping this unlikely combination will change college students' concept of the famous playwright.

Photo: Courtesy of the Syracuse Shakespeare Festival

Upcoming Show:
"The Two Gentleman of Verona - Western Style
Aug. 11-14, 18-21
Thornden Park
Admission: Free

"We're gearing ourselves toward SU more and more," Bell said.

The festival's latest play, "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged," condensed Shakespeare's plots and mixed them with a healthy dose of modern and irreverant humor. And although the show featured appearances by SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer puppets, this isn't a kids' show.

"If my daugter were 13 or 14, I wouldn't take her to see it," Bell said. "I would be embarassed to be sitting next to her and seeing some of this stuff."

Seasons of Shakespeare

The April show was the festival's annual Shakespeare-Under-A-Roof offering. These spring productions are usually Shakespeare-related and not necessarily written by the Bard himself.

The festival is perhaps best known for its Shakespeare in the Park shows. Beginnning with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 2002, the fest has presented a Shakespearean classic in Thornden Park free of charge each summer.

Also, the non-profit festival performs abridged versions of plays for school groups and businesses under the banner of Avon Repertory Theatre. The fest hopes to mold the next generation of Shakespeare appreciators with kids' acting camps in the summer.

Syracuse: University of Shakespeare

The Syracuse Shakespeare Festival is headquartered at SU's Warehouse building in downtown Syracuse. Because festival actors are allowed to rehearse and perform here without paying rent, Bell believes his ticket prices are a thank-you to the university.

"We want to do something to give back because the university does so much for us," he said.

That's why the $10 Shakespeare-Under-A-Roof tickets are only $5 for SU students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Students can find out more about the Shakespeare Fest if they visit the tables at the annual "Feel the Pulse" event in Armory Square or the Westcott Street Cultural Fair each September.

Rehearsing the Bard

Watch an audio slide show of highlights from the festival's rehearsal of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged":  


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