Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation Grant Makes New Shakespeare in the Gardens Production Possible for the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training

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Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation Grant Makes New Shakespeare in the Gardens Production Possible for the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training

(SARASOTA, September 23, 2016) — The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training today announced that it is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. The grant covers over a quarter of the additional funds needed to produce the Conservatory’s Shakespeare in the Gardens. This new initiative created through a collaboration with Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will stage William Shakespeare’s whimsical classic A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM on Selby’s stunning grounds, opening April 11 and running through April 29.

Featuring the entire second-year graduate company of the Conservatory, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM tells the classic Shakespearean tale of four young lovers, five rude mechanicals, and an army of fairies and spirits who cross paths one magical night in a forest outside Athens. The most beloved of Shakespeare’s plays, the story captures the essence of young—and not-so-young—love.

Over the past few decades, the concept of producing Shakespeare outdoors has grown incredibly popular—and rightly so. Most of Shakespeare’s plays were originally written for the Globe Theatre in London, an open-air theater built specifically for his productions. In 1954 the New York Shakespeare Festival implemented this idea of outdoor Shakespeare with performances in Central Park, terming it “Shakespeare in the Park.” Since then, the practice of performing outdoor Shakespeare has spread across America. Now, countless cities throughout the country enjoy productions of Shakespeare as a favorite summer pastime.

The Conservatory’s production will be directed by Jonathan Epstein, the Conservatory’s second-year acting instructor and resident Shakespeare expert. While this is his first time directing it, this is by no means Epstein’s first A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM .  A seasoned Shakespeare actor, director and teacher, Epstein has performed in three previous productions of this timeless classic with Massachusetts’ Shakespeare & Company, two of which were outdoors. He has more than 25 years of experience working with the Company, as well as numerous roles on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and London’s West End.

“Most of the action in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM takes place ‘in the palace wood, a mile without the town,’” says Epstein, “So it’s really pleasing to be performing in Selby Gardens, in a place within the town but protected, precious, sacred and distinct. Obviously this play brings its magic with it wherever it’s performed, but I truly feel that only in nature, amid nature’s unmatchable fountain of creation, can our imaginations leap unleashed to the soaring truth of the play’s poetry.”

Producing Shakespeare in an outdoor environment generates extra expenses. The Barancik Foundation’s grant will help cover rental fees for additional weatherproof lighting and sound equipment needed to stage an outdoor theatrical experience.  It will also provide funding to resod the  Gardens’ grounds after the performance.

“We’re extremely grateful for the generosity of The Barancik Foundation,” says Greg Leaming, Director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. “Their largesse will allow us to produce the kind of event that will not only raise the level of training we provide at the Conservatory but also allow us to partner with one of Sarasota’s most beloved institutions and offer this community a unique theatrical experience.”

“We are pleased to support this performance, which blends the talent of the conservatory’s students and the beautiful surrounding of Selby Gardens,” says Teri A Hansen, President and CEO of the Barancik Foundation. “We hope many families attend and enjoy Shakespeare in its intended outdoor setting.”


The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training is a celebrated three-year graduate program culminating in a master of fine arts degree. For more than 40 years, tens of thousands of actors from across the continent have auditioned for admission. A maximum of 12 students are admitted each year. In their second year, the students perform in the Cook Theatre, a 161-seat space designed to create an intimate experience for the audience and actors. Third-year students are seen on the Mertz Stage working with the Asolo Rep’s professional actors in exciting and significant roles.

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The Charles & Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation—a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida. The Barancik Foundation creates initiatives and awards grants in Sarasota and beyond in the areas of education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment, and medical (research/resources)


Subscriptions for the complete 2016-17 FSU/Asolo Conservatory season can be purchased now by calling 941.351.8000 or 800.361.8388, visiting, or visiting the Asolo Repertory Theatre Box Office, located at 5555 North Tamiami Trail in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Summer box office hours are Monday-Friday 10am-5pm. Single tickets for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and the entire 2016-17 season are now available for donors and subscribers and will go on sale to the public online on October 1 and at the box office and by phone on October 3.


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