Curtains open on the Texas Shakespeare Festival

By Courtney Lane - bio | email

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - The curtain opens on the Annual Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore July 2nd. Now, like many things, the festival has taken a big hit from the economy but the show will go on.

The stage is set and we got a sneak peek at rehearsals. Fifteen hundred actors audition each year from across the country, all to perform right here in Kilgore at the Texas Shakespeare Festival.

"It's really well respected," said actor Casey Bartolucci.  "Even in New York, my instructors in college knew about it. It's a big deal. It's one of the top Shakespeare Festivals in the world."

"It's a service to the community to give this level of professionality to people," said actress Angela Shipley. "With the work they do here and the way that the community supports it, they've really made Kilgore a little landmark here in East Texas."

There is one actor you can see who's a local. Longview and Hallsville native Casey Bartolucci came back from New York City.

"It's a lot of fun. It's coming home which is very nice."

The festival's founder, Raymond Caldwell, says it's a tough year with sponsors cutting funding in this slumped economy. But he's hoping with your support, they can keep the festival alive.

"Maybe this is a good year to have a staycation instead of leaving home, stay home and you have this professional theatre right in your backyard," said Caldwell. "I think they'll be amazed to see what we have to offer if they've never been before and I'm surprised every year that there are people right here every year that have never heard of the Texas Shakespeare Festival. Part of that is because we don't have an advertising budget but we've been here 24 years."

Whether you're bringing a date or the family, there's plenty of culture to soak up.

"It really is a little gem here in East Texas."

About 10,000 people attend the festival each year. It runs from July 2nd to August 2nd.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.