Salidans will get a chance to create, design and perform their own version of Shakespeare's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this fall under the tutelage of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.
The San Francisco company has selected Salida to launch its new "Shakespeare for All" program funded by the James Irvine Foundation. The goal of the program is to build new audiences for Shakespeare plays and to give more people a chance to participate in the performing arts.
There is no cost to participate, and no performing arts experience is required.
Rehearsals will be held Nov. 26, Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 with the performance scheduled for Dec. 8 at the Salida library. The program is open to those ages 8 and up.
Steve Muterspaugh, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival director who is coordinating the program, said he hopes to start a conversation about the importance of the arts in Salida.
"We find (Shakespeare) cultivates more well-rounded human beings," he said.
The company chose Salida for its first city for the program because the Shakespeare festival has a history of performing its professional productions at the Salida library.
The group will organize a number of outreach activities in coming months to spur interest in the program and to get people involved.
On Saturday, professional actors from the group will perform 10- to 20-minute scenes from "Midsummer" in three locations downtown as part of the Love Salida day of volunteer service.
Performances will be at 9 a.m. on Broadway Avenue; 10 a.m. at Kountry Kitchen, 4702 Broadway Ave.; and 1 p.m. at the Salida library, 4835 Sisk Road.
On Nov. 7 at 3:30 p.m., the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival will give a free hourlong performance of "Midsummer" with professional actors, a set, costumes, props and music.
After, audience members can attend a "playshop," and learn more about the play and the coming production with locals.
Muterspaugh said the local production will address issues faced by residents of Salida. He hopes the production will help bring residents together.
"A lot of this program is to help strengthen community," he said.
The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival will follow up next year with another play in Salida and will launch the "Shakespeare for All" program in Modesto.
The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1983 with a free performance of "The Tempest" in Golden Gate Park.
The company now performs free productions in parks each summer all over the Bay Area. The company's mission is to "make the words and themes of Shakespeare accessible to all regardless of age, financial status, or level of education."
For more information, call (415) 865-4423 or visit www.sfshakes.org.