Encore class will travel to Utah Shakespeare Festival

The San Juan College Community Learning Center, Farmington Daily Times
From left, Luigi Sottile as Claudio, Kim Martin-Cotten as Beatrice, Leslie Lank as Hero,and Ben Livingston as Benedick in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 production of "Much Ado about Nothing."

The Encore program at San Juan College will take its annual trek to the Utah Shakespeare Festival Aug. 3 to 5.

"This is always an adventure in color, language, colorful language and splendid performances of the Bard’s work and at least one other live theater experience," said instructor Vicki Whitaker.

Southern Utah University, located in the mesmerizing scenery of Cedar City, Utah, began the Shakespeare Festival in the early 1960s. The festival has been in existence for so long that some spectators attending performances weren’t even born when this festival got started. At that time, Interstate 15 was under construction and a planned exit at Cedar City gave rise to the idea that folks might need something to do after they had explored the fascinating environment and backcountry of southern Utah.

The beginnings were tentative and humble. There were a few enthusiasts who were willing to support what seemed like a flimsy idea that wouldn’t last beyond a few fits and starts before fizzling out.

But to everyone’s surprise, there was no need to look back as the festival engendered the support of the community and the admiration of visitors. These days, more than 100,000 people attend the annual performances of the award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival.

From left, Leslie Lank as Katherine and Sam Ashdown as Henry V in the Utah Shakespeare Festival's "Henry V."

This year, the Encore class will take in "Henry V" and "Much Ado About Nothing," along with a performance of "Mary Poppins" that promises to be true to the story originally penned by P. L. Travers.

"This year, we will enjoy witnessing dissolution giving way to resolution and patriotism ("Henry V"), a return to childhood fantasy and optimism ("Mary Poppins") and an exploration of love where you’re sure you won’t find it ("Much Ado About Nothing")," explained Whitaker.

The class includes a pre-trip meeting to lay the groundwork for the plays.

Registration for the class is due by Thursday to arrange logistics. Additional information on tickets and trip logistics is available at San Juan College’s Community Learning Center or by calling 505-566-3214.

Encore classes are designed for learners 50 and older but are open to all students 18 and older. Visit sanjuancollege.edu/Encore for more information about this and other Encore classes.