The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 29, 2014

Parking lot Shakespeare performances begin today

Mosaic, NUACT partner for productions in unlikely venues

Shakespeare can be found just about anywhere.

The ubiquitous playwright has been translated into more than 80 languages — including Klingon, from the science fictions series "Star Trek" — and more than 80 festivals are held annually in his honor in the United States alone.

Shakespeare Behind Bars is a company founded in Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Ken., that allows inmates to stage public performances. California-based director Ava Roy has held Shakespeare productions in landfills, military forts and at Alcatraz Island. A London actor held a series of Shakespeare flash mobs at public places in 2012 and one company in the United Kingdom performs in a reconditioned tobacco factory.

And this week, the Bard of Avon will add performances in two area parking lots and a city park with the inaugural production of "Shakespeare in the Parking Lot."

A collaboration between Mankato Mosaic and the New Ulm Actors Community Theatre, the production will be held in a trio of locations between today and Saturday: at the North Mankato City Hall parking lot today, German Park in New Ulm on Friday and the City Center Place Ramp in Mankato on Saturday.

Each production includes four short plays inspired by Shakespeare, including "Shakespeare in Hate," a play written by Bethany Lutheran College graduate Jacob Kempfert in which an agent encourages the Bard to spice up his manuscripts. Other selections include a play in which two bad teenage actors are visited by the spirits of Romeo and Juliet and another in which Shakespeare is pulled into a modern-day soap opera.

Event organizer Elaine Hardwick said the event received 55 submissions from playwrights and has attracted several newcomers, including Corbin Noah who is making his directorial debut for Mosaic.

All productions also include a game show with Shakespeare-related prizes (written and hosted by Jason Toupence).

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