Help fund Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park organizers knew they'd started something special when they saw the crowds that flocked to Memorial Park for free live theater.

For the past two years, roughly 4,000 people have set up camp for each of The Bard's plays, coproduced by Wheaton College Arena Theater and Wheaton Park District. By comparison, a park district Concert in the Park draws 300 to 400 people per show.

"This is a partnership that was a long time in the making, and we've accomplished a lot in the past two years," says Wheaton Park District spokeswoman Nicole Kapala. "When we first started, we didn't expect as large of a crowd."

This year, the two organizations are bringing "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the stage at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28 and 29.

One of Shakespeare's most popular works, the comedy portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta. The adventures include four young Athenian lovers and six amateur actors controlled by the fairies who inhabit the forest where most of the play is set.

The park district and Wheaton College also are looking to theater-lovers to help support these plays for years to come. Kapala says each of the three annual productions so far have cost approximately $40,000, with help from several corporate sponsors and the park district shouldering half of the remaining cost to provide logistics like lighting, staging and sounds.

The college shares the other half with the cost of training the actors, costuming and transportation for performers who typically take the stage in cities like New York and Los Angeles.

That's why this year, the two organizations have launched a Go Fund Me campaign that aims to raise $5,000 online at

So far, the campaign has raised approximately $500, with donors voicing their support online with comments like "I'm a sucker for Shakespeare!" and "Keep Shakespeare in the Park!" Kapala says she trusts this is a sign of good things to come, and if the campaign is a success organizers will continue special events for donors during future productions.

"It's a really a great event that brings cultural arts to our community and serves as an opportunity for both young and old to come together and experience something neat," she said.

Shakespeare in the Park has been attracting roughly 4,000 viewers per production in the past two years, and now there is a Go Fund Me campaign to keep plays going for years to come. Courtesy of the Wheaton Park District
Wheaton Park District and Wheaton College's Arena Theater are bringing Shakespeare to Memorial Park for the third summer with a free performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Courtesy of the Wheaton Park District

If you go

What: "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Who: Staged by Wheaton College Arena Theater and Wheaton Park District

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28 and 29

Where: Memorial Park, 208 W. Union Ave., Wheaton

Cost: Free; donations welcome online

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