Actors, crews prep for upcoming 34th season of Texas Shakespeare Festival

Actors, crews prep for upcoming 34th season of Texas Shakespeare Festival

KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) - To go, or not to go: that is the question that well may be asked about an upcoming festival. KLTV was invited to Media Day at the annual Texas Shakespeare Festival held at Kilgore College and spoke with one of the directors.

And all the world’s a stage, but that’s too big a story so let’s focus on the stage at the Anne Dean Turk Fine Arts Center.

Mathew Simpson, an Associate Artistic Director at the Texas Shakespeare Festival was a New York actor, but he wound up here at Kilgore College since:

“The Texas Shakespeare Festival is one of the theaters that has a reputation for doing really good work, paying their actors pretty well; so it’s a very sought-after job,” Simpson said.

He says he’s fortunate to have been working full-time for the festival for seven years, and when they travel to conduct auditions they find many have heard about it.

“We see hundreds of people, and just to get an audition is pretty tough. For them to get the contract is really tough,” Simpson revealed.

In fact, for the 2019 festival they spoke with:

“Over two thousand actors for about twenty-five slots, and in total we hired ninety artists from thousands of applications in all different departments,” Simpson explained.

And he was actually glad to get away from larger cities and what he says is an over-saturation of theater. He thinks that can cause theaters to sometimes put their own slant on the style of a play.

“Our focus can really be: do the plays as they were intended. Try and figure out what the playwright was after and bring out what was at the core of all of these plays,” Simpson stated.

He feels the artists love the satisfaction that attitude brings forth.

“For our audiences, to see these plays brought to life in such a true deep way is a really wonderful thing,” Simpson said.

And when the artists get to Kilgore they know it’s time to get serious.

“We only have five and a half weeks to build the shows, and then we run them for about four and a half weeks after that,” Simpson stated.

He says he feels honored to work with such talented people from around the country.

“The fact that job gets to be figuring out each year how to give them that space to create their art is really, really satisfying,” Simpson added.

He wears several hats through the year before actually directing a play like “As You Like It”, but he knows one man in his time plays many parts.

By the way, there are two lines in this story that were written by Shakespeare. Did you notice them?

Click here for more information on this year’s festival.

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