SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Shakespeare Festival has gotten a little more British.
The Cedar City-based organization recently announced a five-year partnership with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, a prestigious school that has produced actors like Anthony Hopkins, Alan Rickman, Cynthia Erivo and Kenneth Branagh.
Getting that caliber of talent in Utah is “part of the fun of partnering,” said Brian Vaughn, artistic director of the festival.
“You never know who is really going to strike and become the next knight,” Vaughn said with a laugh. “We’re hiring players from some really amazing training programs here in the US. Adding in recent RADA students or graduates just helps the level of talent we bring to the stage.”
Throughout the partnership, which takes effect immediately, the Utah Shakespeare Festival will travel to London each year to conduct auditions with students from RADA. The festival is committed to hiring at least one RADA student or graduate from its acting company for each year of the partnership, which runs until December 31, 2024.
The festival will announce in the coming weeks who from RADA will be chosen for the upcoming season, which runs from June 1 to October. ten.
As part of the partnership, for a week in July, second-year RADA students will bring their annual production of Shakespeare on tour to Cedar City – the first time their production will be shown in the United States.
Additionally, RADA faculty and staff, as well as festival staff, will exchange training workshops with students from Utah and London.
A partnership with RADA has been in the works for 18 months, following conversations with an anonymous festival supporter, said Frank Mack, the festival’s executive producer.
Mack said he hoped the partnership would attract more people to the Tony-award-winning festival, which brings together more than 100,000 people in Cedar City each year.
“I think it’s engaging and exciting for a lot of our audience to know that we are working with the Royal Academy and that we have one of their graduates in the cast of our main season show,” Mack said. “But it’s also sort of an internal thing for the two organizations to work together to make new discoveries about classical theater and Shakespeare’s production, and about the teaching of Shakespeare and classical theater.”
The big announcement comes about a month after festival founder Fred Adams died. The partnership exemplifies Adams, who in the 1960s began to transform a small Utah town into a major arts destination.
“It’s a continuation of Fred’s vision for sure,” Mack said.
“RADA is the world’s premier actor training program,” Vaughn said in a statement. “Having the opportunity for their actors to collaborate with the incredible talent presented at the festival is a gift beyond measure.”