As summer begins, there are many exciting things kicking-off in the St. Louis arts community. This week we visited with A&E grantees Circus Flora and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis to get an inside look at their 2017 seasons.

When asked what she is most excited for this year’s production of “Time Flies,” Circus Flora Development Director Karen Shoulders explained every year had something special to it, but this year had a new treat for the audience. New performances will debut such as world juggling champion Kyle Driggs and famed dancer Andrea Murillo. “In fact, Andrea, who’s a world renowned dancer, has never performed in circus before,” Shoulders explains.

Shoulders says Circus Flora has been performing in the Grand Center Arts District consistently for about the past ten years, but there is a major change of location in the works. Soon they will have a new permanent location for performances thanks to a partnership with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. They will continue to use A&E’s Centene Center for the Arts for administrative and storage space.

The biggest advantage of their new performance home when it opens next year, explains Shoulders, will be the grassy green space as opposed to the asphalt they currently perform on. “[In] the summer in St. Louis it gets at least 14 to 16 degrees hotter on asphalt than grass, so our performers and guests will enjoy it more being in a more lush park setting in the middle of the city.”

Also opening this week is Shakespeare Festival St Louis’s mainstage production of “The Winter’s Tale” from June 2 to June 25 in Forest Park’s Shakespeare Glen. 

While the Festival typically features either comedies or tragedies, “The Winter’s Tale” will be their first romance. Artistic/Executive Director Rick Dildine says, “I’m excited because it’s something our audience hasn’t seen before.”

Following their mainstage production, they will take over the streets of downtown St. Louis with Shakespeare in the Streets this September. “We spend over a year interviewing and getting to know a community,” Dildine explains.” “Then [we] write an original play about it.”

Shakespeare Festival’s “The Winter’s Tale” is free in Forest Park June 2-25 except Tuesdays. Circus Flora’s “Time Flies” runs June 1-25 under the Big Top in the Grand Center Arts District. ARTS Card members get $5 off tickets.

Editor’s note: Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has dedicated their 2017 season to the memory of Mark Wilson, beloved member of the St. Louis theatrical community who passed away unexpectedly on May 28. We join the arts community in mourning his untimely death.