Shakespeare Productions Are All Over Texas This Year

William Shakespeare not only left us with comedic and dramatic works of genius, he also enriched the English language by inventing more than 1,700 words - some say 2,200 - often by changing verbs into nouns, or nouns into verbs, or by adding "un" as a prefix. Included here are some examples of negative words: assassination, addiction, besmirch, bloodstained, and torture; and some more positive ones: generous, majestic, radiant, courtship, and undress (this last is just to see if you've read this far).

There are hundreds of Shakespeare Festivals throughout the world, 14 in Texas alone, as listed by The Shakespeare Fellowship. The oldest is Houston's 45-year old Baker Shakespeare, affiliated with Rice University, which presented The Merchant of Venice in March. The University of Houston's Shakespeare Festival is in its 37th year, and presents free performances at Hermann Park's Miller Outdoor Theater. This year it's August 2 to 11, Antony and Cleopatra alternating in repertory with As You Like It.

Not all Shakespeare is in a Festival. The Clear Creek Community Theatre presents Twelfth Night July 18 to 28. Stark Naked Theatre Company presented Macbeth through June 22. Main Street Theater had teen-age actors, primarily female, explore the gender issues in Macbeth June 21 to 23.

And not all is in the summer. Main Street Theater in association with the Prague Theatre Company, presented Henry V in April. The University of Houston's Downtown Branch presented in early May an abbreviated version of Julius Caesar, using archaic pronunciations. UpStage Theatre presented Much Ado about Nothing last October. In Kilgore, TX, the Texas Shakespeare Festival, substantially supported by Kilgore University, will present June 27 to July 28 The Comedy of Errors and The Winter's Tale, in repertory, on alternate nights.

The University of Texas is active indeed, at the Shakespeare Winedale Festival, near Round Top, this year presenting The Comedy of Errors, July 18 - August 10; The Tempest, July 19 - August 10; and Henry IV, Part 1, July 20 - August 10.

Austin Shakespeare provides weekly meetings where Shakespeare's plays are read aloud, and will present June 20 to 30 Romeo and Julieta, a multi-cultural version using teen-age actors. In El Paso, Shakespeare in the Park will also present the multi-cultural Romeo and Julieta. In Odessa, the Globe Theatre of the Great Southwest (on Shakespeare Avenue, no less) will present the comedic abridgement (by other authors) of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare from August 9 to 19. In Wimberly, the EmilyAnn Theatre presents its Shakespeare under the Stars' Julius Caesar August 1 to 10, and, indoors, Cymbeline in September and October.

In San Antonio, the Magik Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park presented A Midsummer Night's Dream from May 29 to June 1. Texas State University in San Marcos presented Richard III from February 12 to 17. Shakespeare on the Riverwalk in San Antonio had one night, March 30, of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged), and this production re-emerged in June for a short run in a restaurant. Many theater companies offer summer camps in Shakespeare, or special classes for youths.

There may be productions I missed, and if so, I'm sure I'll hear about it. I could drown my regrets by hearing some Texas Blues at Shakespeare's Pub, 14129 Memorial Drive, or take a rueful walk on Houston's Shakespeare Street. Or I could just wait for next year's bonanza of enjoyment from this celebrated playwright.

And may I remind you that upcoming U of H production, August 2 to 11, of Antony and Cleopatra, alternating in repertory with As You Like It, outdoors at Hermann Park, is free!