Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre cancels summer events

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre (FST) has cancelled its summer show and youth camps this season due to COVID-19 concerns.

The current Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre's current stage is at Townshend Point on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)

According to Producing Artistic Director Tom Robenolt, the decision to cancel came after a survey of patrons came back with about 30 percent feeling unsafe attending the outdoor show. Robenolt said that loss of income is enough to make the expense of the production not financially viable.

The play, Twelfth Night, was scheduled to open on July 10th at Townshend Point on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. It has been rescheduled for the summer 2021 season.

The two youth camps would have started this month, but the same concerns led to their cancellation as well.

Robenolt explained that his position is being let go temporarily, because without a summer show or camps, an employee would not have anything to do until next season.

The theater company is next scheduled to hold its annual Bard-a-Thon event in February, with a potential fundraiser in November, depending on further developments with the pandemic.

Robenolt sees FST as having a valuable place in the Fairbanks theater scene. “There’s a group of people who really just love Shakespeare and want to see it performed, and there’s another group of people who are being introduced to it. And you’ll find things like plague, like politics, like all this stuff that he has written about, it’s all repeating itself,” he said.

He added that the use of an outdoor theater provides opportunities for audience involvement that indoor theater may not. “We’re very intimate with the audience, we’re right there, we’re really close. That’s the beauty of Shakespeare and outdoor theater, especially here in Alaska with the midnight sun. We have no artificial lightling, it’s all natural lighting, so that means the audience is lit up too. And the players can interact with the audience directly rather than playing a fourth wall," he said.

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