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Shakespeare in the Park event begins today

STEUBENVILLE — By day they repair organs, are students, edit copy for a local publisher, work as therapists and librarians, even manage businesses. But over the next four days, they’ll be bringing Shakespeare to life in one of the city’s most beautiful venues.

The Harmonium Project is bringing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to Beatty Park, the first installment in what members hope will be an annual Shakespeare in the Park event. Performances are slated for today, Saturday and Sunday.

Due to COVID restrictions, only about 100 people can be seated. A few tickets remain for Sunday’s show, but Harmonium Project President Marc Barnes said if they have no-shows, a corresponding number of walk-ins would be admitted.

Tickets are free.

“It’s been a challenge to try and pull off a play in the park,” Barnes admits. “But what is great is we’re doing a simple performance that doesn’t require a big stage or anything like that. So that lets us concentrate on really bringing Shakespeare’s play to life.”

Barnes said they wanted to “celebrate Beatty Park, which we think is the absolute jewel of the parks Steubenville has to offer.”

“It has old growth trees, Depression-era stonework and provides a nature link with Union Cemetery,” he said.

“We also love theater, we always have. The Harmonium Project has always tried to find ways to bring art to Steubenville and for it to be a means of revitalizing Steubenville. And Shakespeare is the jewel of the theater. Shakespeare in the Park is almost an unofficial institution in many, many thriving cities — we need to look to events other cities are doing well and try them ourselves. There’s absolutely no reason Steubenville can’t shine as bright, even brighter, than (them).”

The play itself is a comedy Shakespeare penned around 1595. Performances will be from 6:30-9 p.m. on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Barnes said it’s a chance to show people who’ve never been to Beatty Park what it is they’re missing.

“We hear that all the time, people who have never been in that park. So this lends itself to that,” he said. “It’s exciting for Harmonium Project, we’re used to operating in the 100 block of North Fourth and 100 block of South Fourth. It’s also exciting because I think the people of Steubenville are very supportive of the arts. It’s a joy to live in a city that is so supportive of these kinds of endeavors

“It’s been a real sacrifice for everyone. We’ve done plays before for kids, but this one is largely for adults. Everyone has jobs, responsibilities and families.”

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