Hark! Shakespeare fest to be staged here soon

The first annual South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is drawing closer, and Coyoteopoly students are doing their best to ensure it hits the stage as smoothly as possible.

Coyoteopoly CEO Anya Point shows off a limited edition ticket to the first South Dakota Shakespeare Festival as she and Coyoteopoly CFO Jillian Nelson make a presentation to the Vermillion Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Travis Gulbrandson)

"The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is going to take a lot of work, and Coyoteopoly has worked for 18 months to get it rolling, and we're finally almost at the end of it," Coyoteopoly CEO Anya Point said during a presentation to the Vermillion Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon.

Coyoteopoly is a University of South Dakota student-run corporation that provides charitable work to the area, and is the organizer of the festival.

Scheduled for June 8-10 in Prentis Park, the festival will feature performances of "As You Like It" at 7 p.m. each night, as well as a variety of other activities and vendors.

"There are different workshops that will be taught by a variety of different people," Point said. "There will be 'Mime and Character,' 'Beginning Playwrights,' 'Improv,' 'Folk Dancing,' 'Yarn Spinning' and a scholars' roundtable, which is a really unique opportunity that the College of Arts and Sciences has sponsored."

During the roundtable – which will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. June 9 – USD professor Darlene Farabee will be joined by Lois Potter of the University of Delaware and Peter Kanelos of Loyola University for a discussion of the inaugural show.

Along with these visiting academics, a number of other professionals will be visiting.

Three actors from New York City and four regional actors from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa will join six USD students in performing the production.

"Our students are getting a great opportunity to work with professionals from other locations in the country," said Chaya Gordon-Bland, artistic director of the festival.

Additionally, members of the community also will benefit from seeing the higher-caliber players in action, she said.

Gordon-Bland received hundreds of headshots and résumés from New York actors – which then had to be sifted through and narrowed down – to fill the three spots. She held auditions of the finalists on a trip to New York earlier this year.

"I think I saw 60 actors in New York," she said. "I probably called back 20 to 25."

Coyoteopoly students have been raising money for the festival for more than a year.

According to Coyoteopoly CFO Jillian Nelson, they have budgeted $22,350 to cover payroll costs, $5,687.73 for marketing, $4,427.79 for production and $2,945 for the roundtable.

The group still is waiting for $3,788 to from various donors and grants.

"Raising money, we did exceed our budget by $6,000, so that will help with money-raising for next year's festival and our payroll," Nelson said.

A significant amount was donated by Sanford Vermillion, Point said.

"They have become our Loyal Patron Sponsor, which is our highest-level sponsor that the Shakespeare festival has to offer," she said.

Approximately 100 other sponsors were found, as well, all of whom are listed on the festival's Web site.

These sponsors will be the sole distributors of festival tickets.

"What this means is that each business, depending on the sponsorship level that they have, will receive a certain amount of tickets," Point said.

Much work has yet to be done before the festival begins, and Point requested the help of at least eight to 10 Rotary members in filling some roles.

"We're hoping that 500 people come to the festival every day, so therefore, there will be cars and traffic," she said. "We will need workers for safety, security, traffic control and several other components."

Point said all of the preparation will lead to a successful festival that can be expanded into the future.

"Coyoteopoly is all about creating long-term relations and partnerships, and the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is not just a one-time thing. We're looking at the long-term," she said.

For more information, visit http://orgs.usd.edu/coyoteopoly/ShakespeareFestival/index.html.

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