Opening night for the Texas Shakespeare Festival is still a few weeks away but the cast and crew look ready to take the stage. At TSF Media Day on Monday, a handful of actors posed in the spotlights on the stage of Van Cliburn Auditorium.

Media Day is an opportunity for the festival members to drum up publicity and enthusiasm for the summer shows, which will open at the end of June. It also gives photographers and journalists a chance to take photos of the actors in their full costumes and makeup because photography is not permitted during festival performances.

The actors laughed and joked as they struck a variety of poses. Tim Sailer and Joan Korte are the main characters from the TSF production of “King John”. Sailer is portraying the troubled king of England and Korte plays the role of his mother, Eleanor, who tries to make sure John retains his royal power.

James Dean Palmer, the director of “King John” coached the two actors as they took poses to illustrate their strained relationship. Palmer, who teaches acting at the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan and previously worked at the Steppenwolf theater in Chicago, directed the actors in poses that illustrate the theme of the play, even if they don’t necessarily appear in the play as they were staged on Media Day. Sailer knelt and presented a troubled expression as Korte held a black crow over his head.

TSF founder and artistic director Raymond Caldwell instructed the actors to consider different emotions their characters would experience in order to get the right facial expression for each photo. Caldwell, who founded the TSF in 1986, welcomed regional media representatives to the event and explained Media Day was a collaborative event between the festival and the local news companies.

After a flurry of clicking shutters and stage directions, Korte and Sailer left the stage to allow other actors to prepare for their photos. Preparations are still underway for the plays but some of the primary costume pieces have been completed.

Micah Goodding, theater instructor at Kilgore College and TSF member for six years, struck a series of comical poses in a bright red period costume piece as the lead in “Tartuffe.” Actors from “Love’s Labours Lost” posed in costumes from the early 20th century, as the classical Shakespearean play has been adapted to be staged in the 1920s.

Each photo opportunity allowed two actors to be featured, as the shows from this season have at least one strong male and female role each. The exception is “The Belle of Amherst, which only features TSF actor and vocal coach Jennifer Burke, the only cast member in the one-woman show based on the famous poet, Emily Dickinson.

P.T. Mahoney, from Kansas City, Missouri, and Lauren Ufkes, of Michigan, could not contain their laughter as they posed with a stuffed frog to enact a scene from the children’s show “The Lovely Stepsister.” The children’s show is written and directed by Grace Abele, who is returning to the festival for her third season.

The 2018 Texas Shakespeare Festival will begin performances with “Love’s Labours Lost” on June 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Van Cliburn Auditorium on the campus of Kilgore College. Tickets are available for purchase at and by calling the TSF box office 903-983-8601 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.


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