The whirligig of time:

It now is less than 30 days before the staging of the first annual South Dakota Shakespeare Festival in Prentis Park.

"It's been a very, very long journey, and coming to a quick end," said Anya Point, CEO of event host Coyoteopoly. "We'll be working very hard in the next month."

Point and other festival coordinators met with members of the Vermillion City Council over the noon hour to educate them as to the nuts and bolts of the operation.

The festival will be held June 8-10 in the park, and will feature a performance of "As You Like It" at 7 p.m. each of those dates.

Workshops covering various aspects of theater will take place at the high school each day, as well, along with a scholars' roundtable at 3 to 4:30 p.m. June 9 at Old Main on the USD campus.

Because of its close proximity to one of Vermillion's major streets, the city council last month approved a motion to close east Main Street from Plum Street to Sycamore Street the night of the performances, so the sound of passing vehicles will not interfere with the production.

"We will be fencing off the road between those streets we just mentioned, and then our chief of security will make sure that we have volunteers standing by each one of those barricades just to make sure that it does remain closed off," said Lee Smith, vice president of operations for Coyoteopoly.

City Manager John Prescott added that the volunteers at the barricades also will assist in case an ambulance needs to pass through the closed street.

"We can't control the helicopter landing during the middle of production, though," he added. That's part of the fun, I guess, of outdoor theater."

Point said a letter will be sent to residents in the affected areas apprising them of the closure.

The city council approved a permit to exceed permissible sound levels by no more than 50 percent in the band shell area of the park, as well.

Security also will be provided in the park.

"We plan to have teams of two in charge of security, so that way at least one person will have a cell phone in hand in case something does go wrong, and it's always better to have two people than one," Point said.

There will be four entrances to the band shell area, with greeters located at each to make sure people do not enter without a ticket.

"The hedges will also kind of act as a fence to keep those without tickets out," Smith said.

Festival parking will be in the high school parking lot.

The high school also will serve as the site of production in case of inclement weather, Smith said.

"We're hoping that no rain will come, and that South Dakota weather will be cooperative for the first time," Point said.

Tickets for the production will be distributed by sponsors of the event, a list of which is available on the festival Web site.

"The reason why we're doing tickets is to see where these people are coming from," Point said. "We have put a number on each ticket, so that way we can figure out where the tickets came from, whether it was Vermillion or Sioux Falls or Sioux City.

"That way, for next year, we can figure out where we need to market more," she said.

Tickets also will be available at the festival itself, she added.

The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival has an operating budget of $50,000, $41,719 of which already has been raised.

"We still are waiting to collect $1,218," said Coyoteopoly CFO Jillian Nelson. "Some of it's from the South Dakota (Department of) Tourism, and they're just matching different marketing things that we're doing."

Other funds are coming from the South Dakota Arts Council, Nelson added.

Although Coyoteopoly students have been promoting the festival since it was first announced, a more fully realized marketing campaign was kicked off this year.

"The very first thing that we did when the semester started is we looked at who is our target market, and where are they coming from," said Stacey Allen, vice president of marketing for Coyoteopoly. "We nailed it down to about a 60- to 100-mile radius around Vermillion."

The students said their attendance goal is 500 people in the audience per night.

"They'll get to have three days away from reality and come into a Shakespearean atmosphere and enjoy a wonderful play, have some drinks and food, and have a wonderful time," Point said.

For more information including schedule of events and workshops, visit www.sdshakespearefestival.org.

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