© 2023 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Illinois Shakes' 2024 season: 'Twelfth Night,' the Scottish play and Austen's 'Sense and Sensibility'

A green, grassy knoll with people picnicking foregrounds the Ewing Cultural Center's round brick and wooden theater.
Illinois State University
Illinois Shakespeare Festival
The theater at Ewing Cultural Center is the site of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

Next summer’s Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF) will feature the Bard's “Twelfth Night” and “Macbeth.”

The lineup was announced Wednesday at Stave in Uptown Normal and broadcast on Facebook Live. The season also was teased to guests of the annual Bard Bash fundraiser in early August.

The comedy “Twelfth Night” was last produced in 2016. And it’s been a decade since ISF audiences saw the so-called Scottish play; “Macbeth” was originally scheduled for the 2020 season and is only now finding its way back into the rotation.

As per tradition, the season also will include one non-Shakespeare play — in this case an adaptation of Jane Austen's 1881 novel, “Sense and Sensibility.” The early timing of the 2024 season announcement could be attributed to Austen, whose work, like Shakespeare’s, is in the public domain.

Austen’s books and Shakespeare’s plays are, in fact, complimentary (and not altogether uncommon) companions. And “Sense and Sensibility” could very well be the most "bardlike" of Austen’s catalog. Like “Twelfth Night,” perpetual misunderstanding eventually results in two weddings — and they all live happily ever after.

The three plays will run in repertory, with specific dates yet to be announced. Season tickets will go on sale February 14, 2024, with individual ticket sales following a month later.

The festival also will continue its educational programs for youth and adults, including the popular Theatre for Young Audiences program. This short, original play is performed Thursday and Saturday mornings all summer at Ewing Cultural Center — the festival's long-time home and a perfect Elizabethan setting for a growing slate of ISF entertainment.

The festival hosts pre-show performances in Ewing’s cobblestone courtyard (this summer’s line-up included MIOpera and Prairie Fire Theatre). On several days of the week, food trucks park on the gorgeous grounds that also are available for picnics (whether or not you’re a ticket holder). New this year, the festival encouraged guests to process to the courtyard for post-show socializing with members of the cast, keeping the bar open for a late night pub vibe.

Next summer also is scheduled to be John Stark's last as ISF artistic director. Stark retired from Illinois State University's School of Theatre and Dance in May and intends to lead the Shakespeare Festival through the summer of 2024. Details regarding a succession plan have yet to be announced.

We depend on your support to keep telling stories like this one. You – together with donors across the NPR Network – create a more informed public. Fact by fact, story by story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support truly makes a difference.

Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.
Related Content