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The City Journals

Utah Children’s Theatre explains Shakespeare in an easy way

Sep 17, 2018 03:42PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Tennessee Tarrant as Count Orsino and Robert Fernandez as Feste. (Photo courtesy Utah Children’s Theatre)

By Cami Mondeaux | [email protected]

Utah Children’s Theatre in South Salt Lake is holding their annual Shakespeare Festival for Children and Adults with Short Attention Spans running from Aug. 18 until Sept. 29. This festival is designed specifically for young children and for anyone interested in Shakespeare but lacks the motivation to sit through a three-hour play or agonize over deciphering Shakespeare’s prose and language.

This is the seventh year the Utah Children’s Theater has held this festival, performing different Shakespeare plays each year. This year, the puppet show brushes upon multiple plays while the mainstage performance is a rendition of  “Twelfth Night.”

The performances focus on keeping the plot of the play while making the language and interactions easier to understand.

Larissa Anderson, director of The Puppet Show and the actor portraying Olivia in “Twelfth Night,” said that doing this creates a different mode of storytelling that creates an interesting and fun cultural experience for everyone to enjoy.

“[These shows] are not just for children,” said Anderson. “It really is geared towards the family.”

Anderson has been a part of the Utah Children’s Theater for years, directing and acting in different productions. For this festival, Anderson both directed and acted in two separate productions enriching her experience. She said that while The Puppet Show and mainstage performance demanded the same amount of work from her, the experiences were completely different.

“The Puppet Show is for the youngest children to get an understanding,” Anderson explained. “It is a really different medium.”

The performances at the festival utilize comedic strategies and exciting theatrical elements to keep the audience engaged. The plays are set in different time periods and places in order to keep the show unique and fun.

These techniques “allow us to hit all the highlights of the show without getting bogged down by the sheer length of Shakespeare's plays,” wrote Lucas Vayo, the actor portraying Orsino in “Twelfth Night,” in an email.

Vayo has also been a part of the Utah Children’s Theatre for years, acting in productions dating back to 2012. During these five years of acting, he has participated in the Shakespeare festival every summer. “Shakespeare's comedies have some of the most entertaining characters and plot devices of any plays around, while the tragedies can elicit emotion like no other,” Vayo said.

The Utah Children’s Theatre is designed to bring an enjoyable experience for all. The theater not only caters to children, but also appeals to adults who just want a fun performance.

“This theater is a real hidden gem in Salt Lake,” said Vayo. “It’s definitely worth everyone’s time to come see shows here.”