VERMILLION — Over the past few months USD’s Coyoteopoly students, along with help from friends and faculty, have been planning and organizing for this year’s “Wine with Will” event. Proceeds from this annual fundraising event contribute to producing the 2016 South Dakota Shakespeare Festival, featuring Shakespeare’s play “The Winter’s Tale” in Vermillion’s Prentis Park, as well as Education and Outreach programming for youth and adults, June 9-12, 2016.

This years “Wine with Will” event was held the evening of Feb.12 in the John A. Gallery in the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts on the USD campus. The event had a turnout of 57 people. Vermillion’s Red Steakhouse provided the wine for the event. Fine wine tastings were paired with delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by Aramark. Live performances enhanced the event, featuring music performed by USD students Hayat Dominguez and Natalie Hining, and sonnets performed by USD students Brianna Adams, Rebecca Bailey, and Nick Manthe.

Fundraising from this event totaled $4,483 including $2,150 from ticket reservations, $723 in donations, and $1,610 from the silent auction. This year’s silent auction included many gifts from community members and local organizations including USD Athletics, Hy-Vee, the Bluffs Golf Course, USD Theatre, Valiant Vineyards, the Washington Pavilion, Susan & Greg Huckabee, Dr. Evelyn Schlenker, Prairie Repertory Theatre, Vermillion Twin Theatres, Lonestar Steakhouse, Café Brule, U-brew, Hendrickson’s Ultimate Car Wash, Randy Brady’s Pump N Pack Car Wash, Virginia Johnson, Sam Hummel, Johntimothy Pizzuto and the USD Art Department, Tigert Art Gallery, plus a special donation from Heikes Family Farm: a Community Supported Agriculture basic share for fresh produce good for 32 weeks.

“Wine with Will” was made possible by the generous support of USD’s College of Fine Arts, Department of English, Department of Theatre, and USD Business Dean Emeritus Michael and Paula Keller.

Other updates of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival include participation by Artistic Director Chaya Gordon-Bland at the 26th annual Shakespeare Theatre Association conference in January. As stated on their website: “The Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA) was established to provide a forum for the artistic, managerial, and educational leadership of theatres primarily involved with the production of the works of William Shakespeare; to discuss issues and methods of work; to share resources and information; and to act as an advocate for Shakespearean productions and training.” This year’s conference “Shakespeare for All Time” was hosted by Shakespeare at Notre Dame on the Notre Dame Campus in South Bend, Indiana.

At this conference, Gordon-Bland had the opportunity to deeply immerse herself in the incredible work being done nationally and internationally utilizing Shakespeare and theatre arts to engage, transform and empower diverse communities, to share best practices in Shakespeare outreach and production, and to further develop valuable networks with Shakespeare colleagues from around the world. As a direct outcome of the STA conference, Gordon-Bland will be travelling to Utah in October to serve as a visiting teacher artist at the Utah Shakespeare Festival for their High School Shakespeare competition, and will be co-convening a panel on Shakespeare and First Nations Communities for the 2017 STA conference.

In other news, casting for the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 production of “The Winter’s Tale” is well under way. Local auditions were held in Vermillion in early February; regional auditions were conducted in Minneapolis at the Twin Cities Unified Theatre Auditions Feb. 20-21; and auditions will be conducted by submission and appointment in New York City in March. The goal is to assemble a cast of 13 actors comprised of seasoned professional actors drawn from highly competitive regional and national markets, combined with younger professional actors drawn from the USD Theatre program.

Coyoteopoly provides charitable, educational, and cultural events that enrich the Vermillion community, including the production of the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival. The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) provides free, professional outdoor summer Shakespeare in Vermillion’s Prentis Park, and arts education programming for youth and adults, delivered in an accessible format. In keeping with the SDSF’s mission of accessibility, all programming is free and open to the public.

For more information about the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival, visit: www.sdshakespearefestival.org.

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