ArtFul Living – St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

“Juliet, Juliet, wherefore art thou?”
In the Glen of Forest Park, June 1-24, of course!

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis opens its 18th year with the beloved Romeo and Juliet, directed by Elena Araoz, critically acclaimed New York-based director of opera and theater. Said Araoz, “Romeo and Juliet is such a timely story for today’s audiences, both here in St. Louis and beyond. It’s all about big love, and how we must take great care of our young people, and remind ourselves every day that our greatest duty is to provide them with a sense of hope for the future — that our identity is not defined by the exclusion of another.”

The story is old and new at the same time. To reinforce that feeling, this year’s set, designed by Peter and Margery Spack, is described as “omniperiod,” a mix of both contemporary and Shakespearean elements. Neon lights and a garage door couple with a “Verona” style brick tower. Costumes, as well, sport a “classic contemporary” look joined with Renaissance features such as brocade patterns and doublets.

Also new this year is SFStL’s Executive Director Tom Ridgeley. Previously the Artistic Director of Waterwell in New York, Ridgeley said, “I simply couldn’t be more honored or thrilled that the Board has entrusted me with leading this next exciting phase in the life of the Festival. It is a dynamic and innovative organization that has woven its way into the fabric of this vibrant American city. The Festival’s history of community engagement and commitment to making Shakespeare accessible to all St. Louisans, is as radical as it is necessary. Building on and extending that legacy will be a tremendous privilege.”

Shakespeare in Forest Park is absolutely free and made possible thanks to the vision, talent, hard work, and generosity of countless artists and supporters all across the region. Please consider supporting this special event with a donation.
Open lawn seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so bring your lawn chairs or blanket. Details about premium reserved seating (chair or blanket provided!) can be found at www.sfstl.com. The performance begins nightly, except Tuesdays, at 8 p.m.

Do plan to arrive early, however, as the magical evening always begins with a gigantic picnic. Pack your own goodies, or nosh at the expanded gourmet offerings available onsite from Butler’s Pantry. For anyone new to St. Louis, I promise the evening cools as the sun sets to make the evening a thoroughly delightful experience. And there’s plenty to keep you entertained while you await the performance:

Nightly, at 6:30 p.m., the Green Show features local musicians, the Bard’s Buzz (a synopsis of the play), and roving performers. Free backstage tours also begin at 6:30 p.m. in front of the main stage. A 20-minute mini-play of “Romeo & Juliet” runs Thursday through Sunday by the Festival’s advanced teen ensemble, the Shakespeare Squadron. Each Thursday performance is signed for the deaf and hard of hearing. On June 15, Mind’s Eye Radio provides audio description of the performance for the visually impaired.

The Festival presents more than just the Forest Park performance this month. On June 15-16, Shakespeare in the Streets: Blow, Winds is performed, also free, on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library’s downtown Central Branch at 8:30 p.m.

Laumeier Sculpture Park, at 12580 Rott Road in Sunset Hills, offers some fun ways to experience art through such events as free family days and evening project-nights for adults. Check out the full list of opportunities at www.laumeier.org or call 314-615-5278. One to particularly note is Picnic & Poetry in the Park on June 15 at 11 a.m. Bring your lunch and a notebook to join In-Residence Poet Stefane Russell to “activate the outdoor space through performance, poetry and sculpture, and use the big questions as poetry prompts.” Deepen your intellectual artistic practice as you explore Laumeier. The event is free for adult audiences.

We bid adieu to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on Washington University’s campus. The museum will undergo expansion and reopen in fall of 2019.

And Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads. Enjoy your special day—maybe in an ARTful way!