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Carole Mikita ReportingFor the first time in its history the Utah Shakespearean Festival this year hired three Utah women who have been influential to theatre in our state. These three women have impressive credentials and have in some way been supportive of the festival for at least 20 years, but now they are part of it from the inside.
Gracing the stage in 'My Fair Lady' and 'Morning's at Seven' is one of Utah's first ladies of theatre, Anne Cullimore Decker. With credits too numerous to list, she never even auditioned in Cedar City, but this year the festival invited her. She says she's reveling in the repertoire.
Anne Cullimore Decker: "When you come down here, you are solely an actor and you focus totally on acting. So that intensity and that focus and the experience that the people bring, brings a very high quality."
When the festival management was looking for someone to run its program called 'plays in progress' the choice was Utah playwright, Aden Ross. Every year this festival receives 200 scripts which are unpublished, never produced, never even had a public reading.
Aden Ross: "We do the staged reading, then the audience talks back to the playwright, sometimes offers suggestions, sometimes the playwrights take the suggestions. So it's really an amazing opportunity for audience members to see how plays are made."
For the first time in the festival's history, a woman is leading the morning after discussions, during which audiences discuss the plays.
Nancy Melich: "I'm on my soapbox about this. I don't believe that an audience’s responsibility ends when they purchase the ticket."
Nancy Melich spent 20 years writing reviews for The Salt Lake Tribune. It's even better, she says, talking to the people she wrote for.
Nancy Melich: "In those discussions, it's very apparent they love the art form, as I do. And so the advocacy continues with the live conversations that happen in the grove, that happen in the square that happen on the street, here in Cedar City."
The Utah Shakespearean Festival continues through Sept. 4th with its summer season of six plays, then opens again in the fall with three more Sept. 23rd through Oct. 30th.