Shakespeare at Winedale Alumni Reunite On Stage to Commemorate 40-Year Anniversary

Dozens of alumni of Shakespeare at Winedale, a summer theater program at The University of Texas at Austin, will take the stage once again this summer at the Winedale Historical Complex near Round Top to celebrate the program's 40th anniversary.

Former "Winedalers" will reunite to give weekend matinee performances from July 18 through Aug. 8. Each weekend will represent classes from four decades.

"There are some very exciting things in store for this summer," says James Loehlin, the Shakespeare at Winedale Regents Professor, director of the program and an alumnus himself. "For the first time in Winedale history, we're hoping to get students from throughout the history of the program to perform scenes from every one of Shakespeare's plays."

The performances will precede plays by this year's class of students. The season will showcase three plays: "Twelfth Night," "Macbeth" and "Henry VI, Part I."

The program is part of the university's English Department. It traces its roots to the 1960s when philanthropist Ima Hogg restored and donated the Winedale property, about halfway between Austin and Houston, to the university. She encouraged James "Doc" Ayres, professor emeritus of English and founding director of Shakespeare at Winedale, to transform a rustic barn into an Elizabethan stage and let students perform there. Since 1970, students enrolled in the summer program make an annual voyage to the iconic barn, where they learn Shakespeare through performance.

Alumni have gone on to become doctors and lawyers as well as actors and theater directors.

Key events this summer include:

On July 17 elementary and middle schools students will perform at the "Midsummer Night at Winedale" gala, along with Winedale summer students and alumni of the program. "We want this gala to feature the past, present and future of the program," says Loehlin.

On Aug. 7 the summer with the Bard will conclude with a season finale, including an alumni reception, a performance of "Twelfth Night" and a toast to the program's last 40 years.

Visit the Shakespeare at Winedale Web site for a map and directions. Tickets for the summer season plays are $5 for students and $10 for adults. To make reservations, visit the Shakespeare at Winedale Web site or call 512-471-4726. Tickets may be purchased online.