Audiences love to gobble up some Shakespeare every summer with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, which tours through at least four states and a huge number of rural areas of Montana. However, not that many people know about its companion program, "Shakespeare in the Schools."

Shakespeare in the Schools

The tour of the state has already started with the play "Much Ado About Nothing" being performed in 47 schools in Montana and in Wyoming. The same routine as the summer shows is underway, which is an eight-member cast playing all the characters. A big difference though, is they have shortened the length of the play to a school-friendly 75 minutes, instead of the usual two-to-three-hour show. To accomplish that condensation, the cast rehearsed for three weeks to get the Bard's words into a presentation that would keep the attention of middle school and high school students. They also include a workshop for the kids.

Why Shakespeare is Important for Students

In a news release, Executive Artistic Director Kevin Asselin said, "Our mission through Shakespeare in the Schools is to share Shakespeare with students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience live, professional theater. Seeing children's curiosity and excitement grow when they hear Shakespearean language for the first time is truly magical for all involved."

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Where the Tour Will Go Next

The cast is on the road for 10 weeks and already has been performing in eastern Montana this month. In November, they'll be touring western Montana, with stops that include Corvallis High School, Plains High School, Loyola High School, Frenchtown High School and Florence-Carlton High School during the first part of the month. And Ronan and Polson High Schools will be at the end of November. They'll wrap up their tour of 53 shows in early December. The specific dates on the schedule and more information is at their website or you can call MSU's College of Arts and Architecture at 406-994-3303.

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