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Rebirths and Revisions In the Arts

Culture doesn't end when school does. A few of summer's prime offerings in music, theatre and art.

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Theatre: Breathing life into Will Shakespeare

William Shakespeare lived four centuries ago, but his spirit still prevails each summer at the Festival Meadows on Sun Valley Road. 

Not only at night, when the Sun Valley Shakespeare performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” runs, but for two entire days during the Sun Valley Renaissance Faire, the modern world disappears in this little slice of Sun Valley.

For the second year in a row, the plays are performed in the open air alongside the famed Sun Valley Company horse pasture on Sun Valley Road, starting in daylight and ending in the dark. With the costumes and language of Elizabethan England on stage, another time and place takes over.

Like the groundlings in Shakespeare’s day, the audience members often bring dinner along with them, although they don’t generally throw their chicken bones at the actors.

“History comes alive for that weekend,” says Prue Hemmings, director of the Renaissance Faire. “We re-create the times of William Shakespeare.”

Swashbuckling pirates, Robin Hood-style archery contests, knights on horseback jousting in the fashion of medieval times, dancing maidens and a king and queen on display are only part of the fun.

Authentic food including sausage, toffee apples, rich ales and sweetmeats sells at booths, along with reproduction weapons, cavalier hats and jerkins.

An entire tent selling costumes for jousting along with leather dresses for the ladies allows amateurs to outfit themselves for the occasion and mingle with performers. Demonstrations of archery skills, weaving talents, the blacksmith trade and bagpiping take place throughout the two days, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Two hundred volunteers perform comedy skits, play the part of the royal court, run medieval carnival games for children and staff clothing and food booths while galloping horses shake the ground and the language of Shakespeare fills the air.

Hemmings says 2,500 people attended the Sun Valley Renaissance Faire in 2006. This year, adults will be able to pay $10 to step back in time during the day, and then buy a ticket for Shakespeare in the meadow. Children are not charged admission to the Faire.

“You can take a weekend away from the modern world,” says Hemmings.

It really feels like Queen Elizabeth might be watching.

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