The Michigan Shakespeare Festival, the official Shakespeare Festival of the State of Michigan, has announced that award winning actor Stacy Keach, regarded as perhaps America's greatest interpreter of the Bard's greatest roles, has given his support to the MSF mission and 2012 season. Currently starring on Broadway in John Robin Baitz's Tony-nominated "Other Desert Cities," the well known TV, stage, and film actor is excited to lend his voice to the Michigan Shakespeare Festival's renewed outreach both in Michigan and the Midwest.
Mr. Keach's Shakespeare credits include the title roles in Hamlet, Richard III, Macbeth, and most recently his acclaimed performance of King Lear. Classically-trained and internationally renowned, he is keenly aware of the importance of Shakespeare. "In many ways, I was lucky. Live theatre was so much more accessible when I was young and getting started. It worries me that Shakespeare's great language, his muscularity with language, and his active, in-the-moment manner of story telling – this rich tradition will be lost if people don't experience it."
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival has recommitted itself to its educational and community outreach. Full touring productions of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth are currently taken to high schools in South Michigan, Northwest Ohio, and Northeast Indiana.
"Shakespeare, for me, is about family. You come together as a community and listen to tell these stories. I could never have done Lear if I wasn't surrounded by people I trusted, and the audience wouldn't have been moved if we weren't attentive to the text and guiding them along the journey. This is what Shakespeare helps people realize, that we're all in it together. That to most effectively be heard, we have to be better listeners. And that's the secret that's missing these days - in life as well as the arts. No one listens. I hope I can help the MSF reach out and make a difference. They're smart enough to know it's not about them, but about the community that comes together to hear their stories."
Under the guidance of Artistic Director Janice L Blixt, over 20, mainly Michigan based actors will be performing Shakespeare's Richard III, Love's Labour's Lost, and Shaw's witty masterpiece, Pygmalion. "The festival celebrates its 18th anniversary this year," says Blixt, "And we are now in the same position Stratford was 60 years ago. We have the energy to expand our audience all over the state. Stacy Keach's imprimatur lends inspiration to all Michiganders to come together and ensure theatre thrives in our state."
"These are scary times," says Keach. "Arts funding is not on the same scale it was a few years ago. The Angels are hiding in the belfry. So its up to you. Just talking about how you like Shakespeare, live theatre, and the arts, it's not enough. You've got to get active, because believe me, when you invest even in a single ticket, you become the solution, and you change lives."
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival runs July 12- August 12 at the Potter Center in Jackson, Michigan, 2111 Emmons Road, 49201. Additionally, 'Shakespeare Allow'd!' – Free public readings of Shakespeare's Canon, are held at the Jackson District Library the last Saturday of every Month at 10am. For more information about Partnering, the Shakespeare Tour, Group Bookings, Season Tickets, or 'Shakespeare Allow'd!' or the upcoming High School Shakespeare Monologue Competition, please call 517.998.3673, email us at email@example.com, or visit www.MichiganShakespeareFestival.com.