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Montana Shakespeare in the Parks 50th anniversary season winding down

"King Lear" performance moved indoors due to air quality on Monday
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BELGRADE — For half a century now, the small band of actors with Montana Shakespeare in The Parks has been connecting people through stories and performances. Executive Artistic Director Kevin Asselin says they are feeling accomplished and grateful for the community as their 50th anniversary season comes to an end.

“It’s a reminder that the organization truly belongs to the community,” said Asselin. “For 50 years they have made it possible to engage these amazing communities for free.”

Audiences come out in droves to watch the performances, always outside and often in public parks. However, today it is in the Belgrade high school auditorium due to poor air quality.

This summer, the troupe has traveled nearly 7, 000 miles, serving 61 communities in over 10 weeks across Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington.

The actors are also their own crew; responsible for building and tearing down the stage at each venue.

Asselin says it’s hard work, but the support and appreciation from the community makes it all worth it. He encourages people to come out.

This season has been extremely rewarding,” said Asselin. “Costumes, scenery, props, sound, all of it is such a great opportunity for our communities to come out together.”

Of course, there is always a moral lesson attached to Shakespeare’s plays that everyone interprets differently. Asselin says Montana Shakespeare in The Parks hopes to create opportunities for creativity, learning, and discovery.

On Monday, the actors performed “King Lear”, set in 1880 Montana territory.

“So there’s a deep relevancy that we’re drawing from Shakespeare’s play,” said Asselin.

The last performances are Sep. 6 and 7 at 6:00 pm in Missoula. If you can’t make it out, Asselin said they will soon be announcing their schedule for next season.