Oxford Shakespeare Festival closes after 10 years

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – A Princess of France ran into the audience of Meek Hall Auditorium at the University of Mississippi on Sunday to bring Joe Turner Cantú to the stage.
The event took place during a standing ovation for “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” which was the last production of the 10th year of the Oxford Shakespeare Festival.
“That was a surprise,” said Cantú, artistic director for the festival. “That was very kind of the company to do that.”
His bow also marked the end of the Oxford Shakespeare Festival.
Cantú said he had hoped a younger member of the Ole Miss faculty would continue the festival, but there were no takers.
“It’s an all-consuming job for 12 months out of the year,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize that.”
There was a chance the Theatre Arts Department would take over the festival, but the faculty declined, he said.
Before coming to Ole Miss in 2002, Cantú had helped to start Shakespeare festivals at Southern Methodist University and Northern Arizona University, and also had worked with the Virginia Shakespeare Festival affiliated with the College of William and Mary.
After the Ford Center opened at Ole Miss, he decided Oxford needed its own Shakespeare festival.
Productions have included “King Lear,” “Twelfth Night,” “Hamlet,” “The King and I,” “The Sound of Music,” “Hello, Dolly” and many more.
“It is a true miracle that OSF made it to 10 years,” he said. “Thank you.”
scott.morris@journalinc.com