The Bard is back in town. 

The Texas Shakespeare Festival's annual summer season continues through July with performances in the Van Cliburn Theater in Kilgore College's Anne Dean Turk Fine Arts Center. 

If you are planning to be one of the about 5,000 patrons who see a TSF play this year, here are some things you need to know before you get your Shakespeare on.

It's More than Shakespeare

This year, TSF is staging Shakespeare's tragedy "Othello" and comedy "As You Like It" as well as the fairy-tale inspired musical "Into the Woods," Garson Kanin's comedy "Born Yesterday" and an original production for children, "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster."

Get Your Ticket Early

If you don't buy tickets in advance, you may not get a seat. Some dates, especially on weekends, often sell out in advance. 

Individual tickets cost $33. You can save money on a ticket if you choose to sit on the padded bench along the back of the theater ($28) or buy a ticket as part of a group of 20 or more ($27).

The theater is small and there are no bad seats. However the best seats are located in the lower level of the center section. Sit there if possible.

Take Advantage of the Extras 

The Texas Shakespeare Festival offers all kinds of cool extras.

If you have a ticket to a Thursday or Friday evening performance, arrive an hour early for the pre-show talk. You will learn more about the play, the challenges of staging it and the performers. 

After each matinee, you can stay in your seat and watch the stage crew change the set for the evening performance. A crew member will talk about the change-over process.

If you count yourself among the festival's super fans, join a discussion at 11 a.m. each Saturday of the season at Coffee Cherry and Bookstore, 1012 Houston St., Kilgore. Some of the troupe members who were involved in the performance the night before gather to talk about the show.

Don't Overlook the Special Events

See a different side of cast members at the annual Talent Showcase. The show features cast members presenting their favorite Broadway and hit songs and showing off their comedy talents.

The showcase has become so popular that the festival added a matinee this year. Performances are set for 2 and 7:30 p.m. on July 24. Tickets to this show cost $25. 

Each year the Texas Shakespeare Festival hosts a group of theater artists from Chongqing and Shanghai, China, who stage an original show. Admission to Chinese Theatre Night is free but reservations are required. Stick around for the post-performance reception. 

Go Backstage 

Have you ever wondered what's on the other side of the curtain? During the TSF season, you can tour the backstage areas of Anne Dean Turk Fine Arts Center. You'll see the dressing rooms and work spaces.  

Tours cost $5 and last about 45 minutes. Call the TSF Box Office at 903-983-8601 for tour times and reservations. 

You can also tour the Festival Center, 815 Houston St., Kilgore. The center houses the festival's costume shop, costume storage, design studio and rehearsal space. This tour also costs $5. Call 903-983-8119 for a reservation.

Just for Kids

The festival always has a play for children. This year it is "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster." The play was written and is being directed by Grace Abele, one of the troupe members. 

Inspired by Aesop's Fables, it is about girl who must take action to save her town. 

Performances are set for 10 a.m. on July 17 to 20 and July 25 to 27. Tickets to the children's show cost $8 or $6 for those in groups of 20 or more. 

The Show Schedule 

  • July 4: 2 p.m., "Into the Woods;" 7:30 p.m., "As You Like It"
  • July 5: 2 p.m., "Born Yesterday;" 7:30 p.m., "Othello"
  • July 6: 2 p.m., "Into the Woods;" 7:30 p.m., "As You Like It"
  • July 7: 2 p.m., "Born Yesterday;" 7:30 p.m., "Othello"
  • July 11: 2 p.m., "Othello;" 7:30 p.m., "Into the Woods"
  • July 12: 2 p.m., "As You Like It;" 7:30 p.m. "Born Yesterday"
  • July 13: 2 p.m., "Othello;" 7:30 p.m., "Into the Woods"
  • July 14: 2 p.m., "As You Like It;" 7:30 p.m., "Born Yesterday"
  • July 17: 10 a.m., "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster"
  • July 18: 10 a.m., "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster;" 2 p.m., "Born Yesterday;" 7:30 p.m., "Othello"  
  • July 19: 10 a.m., "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster;" 2 p.m., "Into the Woods;" 7:30 p.m., "As You Like It"
  • July 20: 10 a.m., "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster;" 2 p.m., "Born Yesterday;" 7:30 p.m., "Othello"
  • July 21: 2 p.m., "Into the Woods;" 7:30 p.m., "As You Like It"
  • July 23: 7:30 p.m., Chinese Theater Night
  • July 24: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Talent Showcase
  • July 25: 10 a.m., "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster;" 2 p.m., "As You Like It;" 7:30 p.m., "Born Yesterday"
  • July 26: 10 a.m., "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster;" 2 p.m., "Othello;" 7:30 p.m., "Into the Woods"
  • July 27: 10 a.m., "The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster;" 2 p.m., "As You Like It;" 7:30 p.m., "Born Yesterday"
  • July 28: 2 p.m. "Othello;" 7:30 p.m., "Into the Woods"

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