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Utah Shakespeare Festival Partners With World-Famous London Acting Program

CEDAR CITY, Utah – The Utah Shakespeare Festival has made history after forming a five-year artistic exchange program with one of the world’s finest actor training programs, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, something that has never happened before in the United States.

The program began Jan. 1, 2020 and will continue through Dec. 31, 2024. The companies will begin combining their talents as early as this season.

Frank Mack, executive producer of The Utah Shakespeare Festival, called it a great collaboration.

“For them to see new and different ways that we approach the work, and for us to see how they approach the work, to put all of those ideas together, to create even more interesting and exciting theatre for our audiences… to have their artistry come over and join our artistry here was really irresistible,” said Mack.

Royal Academy students and graduates will perform in the festival every year while students, faculty, and staff at both locations will participate in training workshops. The London actors are set to perform in shows as soon as this season.

“We did have our auditions in December; it’s a really dynamic group,” said Festival artistic director, Brian Vaughn. “It was challenging to pick, as it always is, in casting these plays. What’s really exciting is that they’ll be playing premiere roles within our season for our audience to see them at work, and to work with our company.”

Royal Academy students will perform their international production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – previously only seen in Europe – in Cedar City for the first time.

The current president of RADA, Sir Kenneth Branagh, is a former graduate and award-winning actor and director.

“I’m delighted about RADA’s collaboration with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the opportunity it presents for our students to enrich their learning,” said RADA director, Edward Kemp. “We look forward to exploring new ideas and common goals and are very grateful to be able to share our work with the audiences, artists and communities in Utah.”

Vaughn said it is very much part of his vision for the festival’s future.

“It’s about the plays and how the plays resonate with an audience, and to have that international perspective from an international scope I think will be incredibly dynamic for both organizations… to continue to bring dynamic plays to our audience, and an experience that will be unimaginable and unforgettable,” said Vaughn.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival season starts June 1 and runs through October 10. Performances by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art students from London will take place in July.

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