VERMILLION — The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) is thrilled to present their first history play, “Richard III,” June 7-10, in Vermillion’s Prentis Park.

In this gripping tale of political intrigue, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, entices us to join him on his treacherous climb to political power. Chock full of drama, seduction, betrayal, and some of Shakespeare’s most enticing characters, this play keeps us on the edge of our seats as we accompany Richard on his intoxicating ascent and turbulent demise.

“Richard III” is one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays, yet paradoxically, it is also one of his most accessible to contemporary audiences. People today will certainly see modern parallels in the machinations and unbridled lust for power in the title character, as well as in the two forever-at-war factions of the Houses of York and Lancaster. Ironically, while Richard the character has only contempt for women, “Richard” the play offers some of the richest female parts Shakespeare ever wrote. There are few other plays in his canon that have four such meaty roles for actresses to sink their teeth into.

Shakespeare’s unique and powerful usage of language is rarely better displayed. The imagery, rhythmic structures, and rhetorical devices make this one of his richest plays. The title character also draws the audience in by speaking directly to them, especially right after he has committed an atrocious crime or despicable act. Somehow, like Hannibal Lecter, he makes audiences love him for his villainy.

“Richard III” will be SDSF’s sixth production in its seven years of existence. Managing Artistic Director Chaya Gordon-Bland is excited to bring one of Shakespeare’s history plays to the Vermillion stage, having previously staged several comedies, a tragedy and a romance.

The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) is a professional non-profit theatre company, supported in collaboration with the University of South Dakota’s College of Fine Arts and Department of Theatre. The mission of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is to increase the cultural, artistic and educational offerings of the state of South Dakota and surrounding regions through professional Shakespeare performances and arts education events delivered in a lively and accessible format. Under the leadership of an active Board of Directors, alongside Managing Artistic Director Chaya Gordon-Bland, and Scott Mollman, director of operations and production, the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival seeks to fulfill an important cultural and educational need throughout the state and Great Plains Region.

SDSF’s 2017 production of “The Comedy of Errors” was brought to life by a world-class company comprising artists hailing from New York City, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St. Paul and South Dakota. The production engaged nearly 900 patrons with the magic of Shakespeare in Vermillion’s Prentis Park during the four days of the Festival. Education and outreach programming impacted an additional 200 youth and adults through arts workshops, a Scholar’s Roundtable discussion hosted by USD’s College of Arts and Sciences, an audience talk-back, and programs created through partnerships with SESDAC (offering support services for adults with disabilities), Sanford Senior Care Center, Flandreau Indian School, and USD’s Upward Bound. In keeping with the SDSF mission of accessibility, all programming is offered at no cost to the public.

In November the SDSF co-produced a School Tour, in collaboration with USD Theatre, bringing Shakespeare performances and theatre workshops to Wagner Community School, Flandreau Indian School and the Minnehaha Juvenile Detention Center. Through this outreach tour approximately 200 high-school students and 14 USD Theatre students were engaged with the transformative power of live theatre arts.

The SDSF’s annual fundraiser, “Wine with Will,” will take place Feb. 22, 2018, at the John A. Day Gallery, in the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts at USD. Tickets for this event will be $50/person and include wine and hors d’oeuvre tastings, live music, Shakespeare performances and a silent auction. For tickets or further information email

Support for the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is provided by the City of Vermillion, Vermillion Chamber and Development Company, Sanford Vermillion, United Way of Vermillion, the University of South Dakota and many local and regional businesses. South Dakota Arts Council support is provided with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, or to get involved, please visit:

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