The Festival continues a long history of Shakespeare in Williamsburg. In fact, Williamsburg was the first place that Shakespeare's plays were professionally presented in the New World. It all started in 1753, when the Hallam troupe of London arrived to present The Merchant of Venice here (making this year's production an ironic choice!).
In honor of this dramatic past, the College of William and Mary created the Festival, which presents two of more of the Bard's plays each summer. All performances are held in Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall on the William and Mary campus.
Here's the current schedule:
"Two Gentlemen of Verona"
June 13-July 8
One of William Shakespeare's most famous comedies, this version trades Elizabethan style and places the action in a Roaring 20's setting. According to the festival, the play "features a girl dressed as a guy, two wily servants to attend the two love-struck boys and.... a dog (yes, a real dog) as the main characters."
"The Merchant of Venice"
A strange, cross-breed of play for Shakespeare, "Merchant" is hard to define. Is it a comedy or a tragedy? Or a romance? Hard to say, as heroine Portia battles wits with crafty Shylock. Who will win and save their "pound of flesh?"
Virginia Shakespeare Festival Tickets
Good news! Ticket prices have actually stayed the same as last year (good to know something hasn't gone up!). Subscriptions are $40 for both plays. Single tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students, and $10 for children. The group rate (for 20 or more pre-paid tickets) is $20 each.
You can reserve tickets by phone, or through their website.
Box office hours are as follows:
January - June 6: Tues-Fri, 10 am – 2 pm
June 7 - July 3: Tues-Sat, 10 am – 6 pm; Sundays, noon – 3 pm (closed Mondays)
July 5 to July 31: Tues, 10 am – 6 pm; Wed-Sat, 10 am – 8 pm; Sundays noon – 3 pm (closed Mondays)
They also offer summer camps for students ages 9-17. Students will study Shakespeare's language, the choreography of stage combat, and period costuming. Camps last one week and finish with an abridged version of a comedy. The cost is $210 per camper.
Both camps are currently sold out, but they are taking names on a waiting list, so it might be worth a try! For details, call 757-221-2683.
Virginia Shakespeare Festival phone number: 757-221-2674
Virginia Shakespeare Festival Website: http://www.wm.edu/vsf/
While in Williamsburg, why not visit the Historic Area? We've listed our top five favorite spots at Colonial Williamsburg (as well as the spot you should skip).
Before you go, make sure you check out our free guide, "Secrets to a Cheap Colonial Williamsburg Vacation".
If you love Shakespeare, the Blackfriars Playhouse, home of the American Shakespeare Center, is our personal favorite place to see the Bard's plays.
To whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from our Blackfriars page:
"Think you’ve seen enough Shakespeare already? Not ‘til you’ve seen it played in the original language by actors wearing everything from go-go boots and fish costumes, to Panama hats and Hawaiian shirts."
Intrigued? Read the rest of our review-- including how to get in for less-- by going to our Blackfriars Playhouse page.
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