Alabama Shakespeare Festival coming to Opera House Feb. 28, 29

Landmarks of DeKalb, Inc. Executive Director Jessica Harper-Brown said tickets for the general public are now available for the Feb. 29 performance at 2 p.m.

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s traveling troupe of actors will perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on February 28 and 29 at the Fort Payne Opera House.

Landmarks of DeKalb, Inc. Executive Director Jessica Harper-Brown said the group plans to do a show for local school children during their visit to DeKalb County. Tickets for the general public are now available for the Feb. 29 performance at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased on the day of the show in the lobby box office, by visiting the Landmarks website, www.landmarksdekalbal.org, by calling 256-845-6888 or by emailing landmarksdekalb@bellsouth.net.

Harper-Brown said one of the organization’s goals for 2020 is to create more opportunities for the public to visit and enjoy the historic Opera House, which is the only opera house in Alabama still in use as a live theater. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and the National Register of 19th Century Theaters in America. Tours of the structure are available to the public.

“The Opera House was built during Fort Payne’s industrial boom in 1889,” said Harper-Brown. “It was intended to be the cultural center of the community. Visitors would get off the train at the depot, then walk across the park to drop off their bags at the hotel before visiting the Opera House for live theatrical events. It is our goal to create more opportunities for the contemporary public to visit and enjoy it.”

To that end, Landmarks has begun hosting Yoga on the Stage with Destin Padgett instructing, the next event planned for January 20 and planned for Mondays going forward. The DeKalb County Fine Arts Program has booked the Opera House for its Feb. 17-21 winter showcase and plans a performance of the hit musical “Chicago” in early April.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedy written by William Shakespeare in 1595. It is one of the playwright’s most popular works, portraying the events surrounding the marriage of Thesus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta (the former queen of the Amazons). These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors (the mechanicals) who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.

The play was adapted to a film version in 1999 starring Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stanley Tucci, Sophie Marceau, Christian Bale, Dominic West, Calista Flockhart, and Rupert Everett. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is mentioned in the popular 1989 film “Dead Poet’s Society” as the play for which one of the young male characters auditions and wins a lead role in spite of his father’s disapproval of his acting aspirations.

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is permanently housed in Montgomery. The festival originated in 1972 in Anniston. All of the actors are members of this season’s Acting Fellowship Company.

The play is directed by Greta Lambert, who said, “Seeing the plays makes the work so much more accessible – the stories literally come to life for the students. Once students feel how human the stories can be, they can identify with the characters and enjoy the playful language. Shakespeare is a master storyteller, and it is vital to keep his work alive through these young people by letting them feel the joy of the live experience.”

ASF presents the play to students as part of a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, offering a study guide to help them perceive and analyze artistic work, interpret intent meaning, apply criteria to evaluate it, synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art, and relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

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