Texas Shakespeare Festival returns to Kilgore after a year hiatus

WEBXTRA: Texas Shakespeare Festival returns

KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) - The Bard shall returneth. After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled last year’s performances the Texas Shakespeare Festival is coming back for its thirty-sixth season. And CDC guidelines will be observed.

Texas Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Meaghan Simpson took over the fest after founder Raymond Caldwell stepped down last year. She says now it is feeling real.

“But it also feels a little bit like a baptism by fire because it’s not the easiest first season to start with the COVID world that we still live in,” Simpson said.

She says they will be bringing in 90 professionals from around the country for all aspects of theatrical production, so CDC guidelines will be in effect.

“And then when it comes to the acting company they will be removing masks because that’s how you can see and hear them. And of course there will be physical contact, touching. I mean we’re doing Romeo and Juliet, so you’ve got to imagine there’s going to be some kissing. And so because of all of that we have to have very strict guidelines in order to keep them safe,” Simpson said.

Which means keeping the cast in a sort of protective bubble.

“We just can’t do as much of the meals and the gathering and the pool parties and all of that stuff that really does make it extra special,” Simpson said.

But, she says, those are sacrifices they are willing to make so the show can go on. And the audience?

“We will be requiring wearing masks in the auditorium and we be putting some social distancing into our seating arrangements so that when you go to buy a ticket, you might see some black circles that say this spot is reserved for social distancing,” Simpson said.

And as far as the twenty-one actors in the company:

“Only three of them are not vaccinated,” Simpson said.

She says that could change by show time, and that weekly or daily testing for COVID-19 is also an option.

“I think there’s still a way to make people welcome in East Texas, and make them feel like they’re getting that TSF experience, but also keeping everybody safe,” Simpson said.

Well, to thine own self, and everyone else’s, be true.

Simpson says they are looking into the possibility of streaming the plays for those who can’t go in person. The season runs during July. Texas Shakespeare Guild members can buy tickets on line starting Saturday May 1, and the general public May 8.

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WEBXTRA: Texas Shakespeare Festival returns