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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Shakespeare returns to Himmel Park

    Michael Givens has a passion for Shakespeare.

    The director, producer and designer has been involved with Tucson’s Shakespeare in the Park since its start seven years ago.

    Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” was hand-picked by Givens to be the 2013 Shakespeare in the Park production. Free performances of the play are scheduled for this weekend and Oct. 3-6 at the Himmel Park Amphitheatre.

    The production process begins with Givens considering which of Shakespeare’s 37 plays he would like to produce, then editing the script’s language to make it more accessible to the audience.

    “‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ is a very funny show full of a series of pranks,” Givens said. The play follows a knight who sends identical love letters to two different women who take their revenge after discovering they have been wronged.

    Shakespeare in the Park is made possible by local actors and a large group of volunteers. Many of the actors have day jobs strikingly different from performing.

    “Some are lawyers, others are Best Buy workers,” Givens said, adding that some actors have been with the production since its start while others will make their debut this year.

    The El Rio Theatre Project, which sponsors Shakespeare in the Park, began eight years ago as a reader’s theater. Since then, the park and surrounding area have grown fond of the productions.

    “The neighborhood is glad to have us, and our audience is getting bigger,” Givens said. “The production would not be possible without the enthusiasm of the people around us. We’ve been getting encouraging comments.”

    When actor John King auditioned in July, he did not care about getting lines — he wanted a backstage Shakespeare experience.

    “Acting is much different from my day job in IT,” King said. The actor, who will play Robert Shallow, said he’s enjoying the chance to “tell a silly story.”

    As a convenience to students, Shakespeare in the Park is close to the university and is inexpensive, King said. The show is free to the public, but there is a suggested donation of $5.

    “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is Shakespeare for newcomers, said Jessica Armistead, who will play Mistress Page.

    “It is a great event,” she said, suggesting that prospective attendees “sit back, relax and enjoy Shakespeare under the beautiful stars in Tucson.”

    What: Shakespeare in the Park
    Where: Himmel Park Amphitheater, 1000 N. Tucson Blvd.
    When: 7 p.m., Friday — Sunday

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