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Utah Shakespeare Festival Celebrates 50 Years With Traveling Photo Exhibit

The exhibit “We are Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On” features production photographs spanning 50 plus years at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. This Tony award-winning company has featured big names and big shows with Shakespeare as its cornerstone.

Jason Spelbring is a theatre professor at Utah State University and has worked as an actor at the festival for six seasons.

“People in this exhibit can see the progression of work, quality, names, people that people probably know from T.V, film, and the state of Utah. It’s just sort of a great way to remember and realize that there is world-class theatre right here in the state of Utah,” said Spelbring.

Leslie Brott is also a theatre professor at USU and has worked as an actor at the festival for 15 seasons. In the exhibit, she appears in photographs of “Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Antony and Cleopatra.”

“This is a shot of the original theatre. You can see that it’s just a platform out on the grass and that they had laid down plywood for flooring for the audience house. And there are just good, old-fashioned folding chairs,” said Brott.

“As we move on into the exhibit, you’ll see photographs from the earliest days of the festival. Several of them are set up as duets and so we see what was then and what is now and there are some lovely, contrasting moments,” said Brott.

The photographs sparked fond memories of times past, from savoring delicious lemon bars at the quaint Sweet Shop to sporting giant costumes in A Midsummer Night's Dream.  The festival holds a special place in many hearts, from actors to patrons to organizers.

“As we move over here you’re going to see a black and white photo of Fred Adams, Cam Harvey, and of Doug Cook who are the original sort of masterminds behind the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Here they are looking over a scale model of the outdoor Adams Memorial Theatre with the roof on. It’s just a really great history shot,” said Spelbring.

The future is bright as several exciting new projects have been announced for the Utah Shakespeare Festival, including a $35 million project for two new theatres, an artistic and production facility, and a Southern Utah Museum of Art. As the festival grows and develops, however, they continue to remain committed to their roots.

“Every year Fred Adams tells us at the opening company meeting - the one time all 450 of us are all together - about the fact that when the pioneers first arrived in Utah, shortly thereafter, sometimes he says basically the next day, they decide they’re going to do something cultural, something life-affirming about the new start in Utah. Within a couple of days of arriving, the pioneers did put together a performance of the "Merchant of Venice." We’re continuing that tradition here in Utah,” said Brott.

The exhibit can been seen Monday – Friday from 10 AM – 5 PM at the Tippets Exhibit Hall located in the Chase Fine Arts Center until October 31. For more information, visit the Caine College of the Arts webpage.