BAYarts to host the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival

Khaki Hermann as Beatrice and Stuart Hoffman as Benedick rehearse a scene from the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival's production of "Much Ado About Nothing," coming to BAYarts July 21. Photo by Tyson Douglas Rand.

The Cleveland Shakespeare Festival was created with the mission of providing the people of Cleveland free Shakespeare. Now in its 22nd season, the group will be traveling to the BAYarts campus on Sunday, July 21, 7-9 p.m., to perform "Much Ado About Nothing."

"My friends and family have been going to CSF for years at various venues around the city: Lakewood, Tremont and Cleveland Heights," says BAYarts Executive Director Nancy Heaton. "My kids grew up with this tradition and learned how fun and engaging Shakespeare can be; we still look forward to it every year."

Tyson Douglas Rand joined the company in 2005 and now has acted as the organization's artistic director since 2009. "Folks that have come to see CleveShakes programs in the past will certainly recognize some familiar faces as well as meet new and talented local actors. The sweet young lovers, Claudio & Hero, are being played by new company members Andrew Pope and Chloe Smith. The witty adversaries, Beatrice and Benedick, are being brought to life by CSF veterans, Khaki Herman and Stuart Hoffman. Both couples are surrounded and supported by an amazing group of local talent – both new and seasoned."

Rand explained that the decision to perform "Much Ado About Nothing" came after first performing "Henry V."

"Our first show of this season was 'Henry V' – a play about war with a suggestion that a romance may offer peace. 'Much Ado' is a romance that happens after a war and features multiple and various battles of wit, deceit, and trickery – some in good fun, others with malicious intent. The play is great because, although 400 years old, we can all find a character or situation in it to relate to! Besides, it's very funny! The shows were chosen as a pair because they compliment one another so well and their light-hearted resolves lend themselves perfectly to celebratory summer fare."

"Much Ado" is one of the most beloved of Shakespeare's comedies, perhaps in part, for this very reason.

What makes it so fun to watch these plays performed in outdoor spaces? "Shakespeare's work was created to be performed with minimal scenery and are written in such a way that all you need to know to make the story come to life is already there within the text," explains Rand. "Even when there is the occasional archaic word that we might not understand in today's English – placing the words or phrases within a frame of contemporary characterizations, the meaning rises to the surface with little or no effort. If you listen to the words, the characters that speak them will make them clear."

As a highlight to the experience, Summer provides a great chance to enjoy a show in more flexible ways. "Outdoor theater is an amazing way to bring neighbors, friends, and members of our shared community together to enjoy the great outdoors and gives us something in common to talk about. These programs are intended to generate a greater sense of community."

To that end, Heaton fully agrees. "As with everything at BAYarts, this is the type of accessible and entertaining programming BAYarts likes to introduce. When The Cleveland Opera Theater first performed in the Summer Concert Series, it was a departure and there was no knowing how it would be received. Now it is one of the most popular concerts in the series (Aug. 11 this year.) Of course, we still do rock 'n' roll."

Libations and snacks are available at all Sunday concert/performances. Picnics encouraged. Some seating is available, or bring your own. For a full listing of summer performances, visit

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

BAYarts is a cultural arts campus that features education, exhibition and events. 

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Volume 11, Issue 14, Posted 10:09 AM, 07.16.2019