The Montford Park Players in Asheville is North Carolina's longest running Shakespeare Festival! FREE summer "Shakespeare in the Park" productions are outdoors at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre, 92 Gay Street, near downtown Asheville.
Yes, you can attend at no cost. They do pass a hat at intermission for funds to keep the theatre running, with a suggested $5 donation per person. Picnics are encouraged. The players have wine and beer available for sale this year, and carts from The Hop, The Chocolate Lab and Avery’s Hot Dogs have become a welcome addition to the theatre’s regular concession offerings.
Other winter/spring productions are held in the historic Masonic Temple in downtown Asheville at 80 Broadway Street.
The 2013 season includes:
Importance of Being Earnest: April 11-28 (ticketed show - performances Thursday through Sunday) in the Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway: Oscar Wilde’s hilarious satire of Victorian customs is full of farce and wit. Reflecting his belief, “That we should treat all trivial things in life very seriously, and all serious things of life with a sincere and studied triviality.” this most enduringly popular of Oscar’s plays is him at his comedic best. Its humorous commentary on tradition, marriage and the pursuit of love make for a perfect Spring evening out.
Complete Works (abridged): May 9-26 (ticketed fundraiser - performances Thursday through Sunday at Amphitheatre): Can three guys really cover thirty-seven Shakespeare works in less than two hours? This fast-firing comedy parodies all of the Shakespeare plays (plus the sonnets!) with only three performers in two acts. Freshly revised every year to suit our changing world, the guys on stage make a valiant, if misguided, effort to show us all how relevant Shakespeare still is to our daily lives. How will they do it this year? Well, that anybody’s guess, but knowing them, it’s going to be a wild ride. May the Bard forgive us.
The Tempest: May 31-June 22 (free season - performances Friday through Sunday at 7:30 PM): "Be not afraid. The isle is full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not." This tale of magic, elemental spirits and creatures, romance and comedy is one of Shakespeare's most fantastic. Come visit the island as exiled magician Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, along with his servant spirit, Ariel, and creature, Caliban, attempt to restore his daughter, Miranda,to her rightful place and thwart his usurping brother. But could love interfere with his plans? Find out in our summer season opener, The Tempest!
Merchant of Venice: June 28-July 20 (free season - performances Friday through Sunday at 7:30 PM): Although best remembered for it's dramatic scenes, Shakespeare's weighty tale of love, friendship, the nature of mercy, and the nature of racism is actually a comedy. It also features some of Shakespeare's best known idioms, some of his most beautiful monologues, and one of his strongest female characters, Portia. Is Shylock a villian or is his vengeance just? What exactly is the quality of mercy? And is all that glisters really gold? Come find out in our presentation of one of Shakespeare's most important and controversial plays, The Merchant of Venice.
Love's Labors Lost: July 26-August 17 (free season - performances Friday through Sunday at 7:30 PM): This is Love's Labour's Lost done in the style of 80's high school comic romances. When a group of students sworn to celibacy all fall comically in love with three beautiful ladies, hilarity ensues. Throw in a heavily accented Spaniard, a country clown, a constable named Dull, and a play within a play, and you can count yourself in for a fun romp on a summer's evening.
Hamlet: August 23-September 14 (free season - performances Friday through Sunday at 7:30 PM): The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is often called, "The greatest play ever written in the English language". Hamlet explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, moral corruption, duty, and madness. The play takes the audience through Hamlet's own roller coaster of emotions from grief to rage, trickery to madness, comedy to tragedy. Come enjoy the drama as we close our summer outdoor season with Hamlet.
Othello: October 10-27 (ticketed show - performances Thursday through Sunday) in the Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway
Christmas Carol: December 5-22 (ticketed show - performances Thursday through Sunday) in the Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway
Outdoor Performance Tips for Guests
For outdoor productions, bring an umbrella/raincoat. MPP only cancels if there is a major downpour. Often, it may be raining everywhere except the amphitheatre. People bring fast food, picnic baskets, and candlelight dinners. Bring a lawn chair for a more comfortable seat! The concession stand sells drinks and snacks. There is no charge for the productions or parking. For 40 years, they've passed the hat at intermission, and donations are appreciated.
The Montford Park Players performs at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre, 1 Gay St, Asheville NC 28801. For more information call 828-254-5146 or visit www.montfordparkplayers.org.