Fest continues tradition of fine arts under stars
By Michael Drakulich
Summer weekends on campus will sizzle with entertainment, thanks to the Summer Fine Arts Festival, coordinated by the Office of the Reynolds Club & Student Activities.
The weekend performances, from July 10 through Aug. 15, will feature jazz, dance, Gilbert & Sullivan and the Bard. The festival will be held in Hutchinson Courtyard, site of summer weekend entertainment for more than 40 years.
Outdoor summer entertainment at the University can be traced back to 1906, when a company of English Players performed on 58th Street. The University began its official support of a summer festival in 1955, when University Theater introduced the University of Chicago Summer Drama Festival in Hutchinson Courtyard. Through the 1960s, audiences enjoyed the works of Shakespeare, Moliere and Brecht, presented informally by students and community members.
In the 1970s, the summer theater productions became the domain of Court Theatre, which grew to such prominence in the community it would soon construct its own theater building and become the University's resident professional theater company.
Eventually, Hutchinson Court's summer activities were no longer restricted to drama. During the 1980s, the University sponsored a Summer Nights festival of dance, music and theater, which evolved into the Music Department's Summer Opera Festival. Symphony concerts, as well as performances by the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company became a summertime staple. In 1994, University Theater once again began staging outdoor summer productions.
To continue the Summer Nights tradition of an inclusive arts festival, the Office of the Reynolds Club & Student Activities worked closely with various campus organizations to create the Summer Fine Arts Festival last year. In its current incarnation, the festival is organized to entertain and enrich as wide an audience as possible. The schedule for this year's events is:
_ Friday, July 10, and Saturday, July 11: "Blowin' in From Chicago," an evening of classic and contemporary jazz presented by WHPK 88.5 FM.
_ Friday, July 17, and Saturday, July 18: Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe, presented by the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Co.
_ Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25: "Fusion," an evening of dance and music presented by University of Chicago's Fusion Performance Group.
_ Friday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 9, and Thursday, Aug. 13, through Saturday, Aug. 15: William Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost, presented by University Theater.
All performances will begin at 8 p.m. In case of rain, performances will be held in Mandel Hall.
Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door; seniors, $8 in advance, $10 at the door; students, $5 in advance, $7 at the door. A Festival Pass for all four shows is $36, $28 for seniors and $16 for students. For group rates or more information, call the Reynolds Club Box Office at 702-8787.