Q. What is the Michigan
Shakespeare Festival Tour?
A. The MSF Tour -- also known as The MiSFITs -- is the educational outreach program for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. We bring professional, full-company, First Folio of 1623 Shakespeare to high
schools in southern Michigan, northern Ohio, and northeast Indiana. Our productions are text-based and high-energy, designed specifically to bring the plays that students most commonly read in high school to life.
The Touring Company consists of 10 young professional actors (all of whom have completed training programs on the university level, at least, in performance), and a Technical Director. The entire company has classical theatre training and are Folio proficient.
Q. What should we expect from a Tour performance?
A. Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth both run approximately 100 minutes. Our focus is on the language and story of Shakespeare's plays. Our productions are set in a combination of 'period' style and modern sensibilities, similar to how Shakespeare's own company would have approached production.
For Romeo & Juliet, the combat is classic Renaissance rapier/dagger, the properties are all Renaissance properties, and the costumes combine early Renaissance shirts, boots, long dresses, and gonellas.
For Macbeth, the combat is medieval broadsword, the properties are medieval and rather rustic, and the costumes combine medieval tunics, boots, and dresses.
Our purpose is to be true to Shakespeare's texts and not to let some 'concept' or design interfere with understanding of the language, yet allow expected aspects of classical theatre free reign.
MSF uses Shakespeare's First Folio of 1623 for all of its productions, therefore, there may be slight alterations in texts read by schools due to later adaptations and editorial choices. Minor changes may be made to aid modern audiences in understanding the show and are at the discretion of the director. Edits for time are made by the MSF Artistic Director, Janice L Blixt.
The MSF Tour uses minimal stage effects and scenery, but scenes of violence and what might be deemed PG-13 (ie. ribaldry and innuendo) are common in Shakespeare and part of the production. MSF does not add disturbing content to its shows, but our shows are not edited from the original. There is no nudity or added content.
Q. What are the facility requirements to bring the Tour in to my school?
A. The School must have an appropriate space for the performance: theatres are, of course, best, but other spaces will work as well. MSF prefers not to perform in gymnasiums or cafeterias, which tend to bounce sound so much as to make the performance of classical language difficult to understand, but we can make it work. We have also had success playing in larger lecture halls and open space rooms (library spaces, large conference rooms).
The performance space must be cleared of all sets and have basic masking accessible.
MSF must have access to lighting equipment (we bring our own technical director to handle lighting - whatever is in the air is usually fine) and access to sound equipment (our stage manager is able to run sound for the show) which must have basic CD capability. We play spaces that have technology to rival Madison Square Gardens, spaces with simple on-off lights in the back of the room, and everything in between. Whatever you have, we will make work.
MSF must have access to a room adjacent to the theatre space for dressing and for our belongings. Dressing rooms or nearby classrooms/empty rooms are fine.
Q. When are performances held?
A. Our Tour officially opens on January 12, 2020, and officially closes on June 12, 2020. We are available five days a week and can work around your school's bell schedule. Start times normally begin between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and some afternoon shows are available. Start times may need to be later if your school is further away to allow the company time to both commute and safety check your space.
Either show is available at any time. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have a query about dates.
Q. Is there a time for the company to answer students questions?
A. Following all performances there will be a 10-15 minute Question/Answer session with the company (the length is dependent upon the needs of the school).
Questions will be chosen at random from students unless your school asks ahead of time for a different arrangement. If there is a specific historical or literary point you'd like us to address, please just let us know.
Q. How much does it cost and how is payment handled?
A. It costs $9 per student (teachers and chaperones are free). There is a 150-student minimum ($1,350) for a performance-- above that 150 minimum, $9 per student applies. Some schools have had success finding funding support from local foundations or companies to help underwrite the Michigan Shakespeare High School Tour appearances.
(If you book prior to December 15, 2019, you will receive a $1/student discount for the performance, making the minimum payment $1200 - all other terms apply.)
A 10 % deposit is due within two weeks of booking the performance in order for MSF to hold the date.
The balance of payment is due two weeks prior to the performance. Checks can be made out to The Michigan Shakespeare Festival and mailed to:
High School Tour
c/o The Michigan Shakespeare Festival
215 W. Michigan Ave.
Jackson, MI 49201
We do know that collecting from students is often akin to herding cats. It is common for us to accept three payments: a deposit to set the show, the first balance which is the amount collected two weeks prior to the performance, and a final payment the day of the show to cover late payers. We do not wish students to be denied the opportunity to see live Shakespeare if it can be avoided.
MINIMUM PAYMENT ($1350) MUST BE PAID PRIOR TO THE START TIME OF THE PERFORMANCE.
Q. What are the benefits of bringing a Tour to my school?
A. No bus to schedule. No additional missed class time. And it is much more cost effective than many other theatre productions.
Q. How do I book a show for my school?
A. Contact MSF Booking Manager Hannah Noth at MSFTour@michiganshakespearefestival.com
Dates are filling up fast, so we encourage teachers to reserve a day soon.