INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Actors have begun rehearsing and production crews are constantly creating as the 2010 Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival nears — and a recent $75,000 loan will ensure that William Shakespeare’s full creative mind will be on display this summer on the shores of Sand Harbor.
The loan from the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau puts the festival on a “much stronger financial footing” heading into this summer’s production, said Terry Jones, chair of the festival’s board of directors and member of the visitor’s bureau.
“We’ve had such a tough couple years — all our cash comes in during the season, so this loan will help us out before the season begins,” Jones said. “It’ll be kind of bridge, to help us along before we get going.”
The Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau holds a long history with Shakespeare, as it kept the festival running in 1992 when the North Tahoe Fine Arts Council folded, eventually sealing a major deal in 1995 to move production to Sand Harbor.
In past years, the festival usually featured performances of a pair of Shakespeare classics, such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Taming of the Shrew” in 2007 and “Macbeth” and “The Comedy of Errors” in 2005.
However, economic woes since 2007 that included dipping attendance, staff layoffs and the loss of major corporate sponsors and gracious philanthropic donors were the main reason behind the decision to produce “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” for 2010, a compilation of 37 of Shakespeare’s plays performed by three actors in two hours.
“One of the things most important to us is putting our financial house back in order,” said Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Charlie Fee in a May 19 story at tahoebonanza.com. “We’re not in bad shape. Compared to some theater companies out there, Lake Tahoe is really strong. But our decision to do the one play this summer was really financially driven. We’ve lost sponsors, had a sales decline — it’s not hideous, but it’s the reason why we needed to reduce overall costs of the festival this year.”
Helping the economic transition, Fee said, was the naming in May of Bob Taylor as the festival’s new executive director, replacing Catherine Atack, who spent the past seven years there before moving on this summer to Los Angeles.
The internal hire — Taylor has worked with the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland since 2000, and this year the Lake Tahoe festival partnered with Great Lakes, along with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, Idaho — was helpful, Fee said, because the partnership allows the three festivals to share staff and productions and lower total costs.
The $75,000 loan is fairly large one for the visitor’s bureau, said Bill Hoffman, executive director of the Incline Village-based center, as the organization generally deals with smaller grants to various special events in the region.
“Shakespeare is our signature event in Incline Village, and these events really help grow our tourism infrastructure,” Hoffman said. “And you can’t have a sustainable infrastructure if you don’t have a product to sell, so it’s important that the Shakespeare festival stays healthy.”
The 38th annual festival takes place from July 9 through August 22. It will present 32 performances of one Shakespeare play, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” a compilation of 37 of Shakespeare’s plays performed by three actors in two hours.
Besides “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” the 2010 festival will also present two musical acts Monday and Friday evenings, a total of 10 artists performing over 12 shows.
Ticket prices for “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” vary based on weekday vs. weekend performances and seating, and can range from $22 to $77 for adults. Tickets for the music series range from $18 to $55 for adults.
Complete information about tickets and special deals can be found at www.laketahoeshakespeare.com/tickets, or by calling (775) 298-0163.
Learn more about the festival at www.laketahoeshakespeare.com.