Shakespeare on the Rocks relocates due to shutdown

Leonardo Montañez, Staff Reporter

National parks such as Chamizal National Memorial were closed during the 16-day government shutdown, and this affected the events and shows planned during this time, including Shakespeare on the Rocks.
The production of “Doctor Faustus,” which will premiere on Oct. 27, had to relocate to the Woman’s Club of El Paso.
Elizabeth Dahl, director of marketing and public relations of Shakespeare on the Rocks and an actress at the company, said that although they had a great partnership with the Chamizal, they inevitably had to find a new venue.
“The people at El Chamizal suggested that we should seek another venue because it would be in everyone’s best interest to look for other places, since we didn’t know when the shutdown was going to be over,” Dahl said. “None of us could predict what would happen with the government next and it was disheartening to see all the events cancelling and we were one of the few very fortunate who were able to continue.”
Dahl also said none of the company’s events were greatly affected by the shutdown because opening night had been scheduled for Oct. 25, but she said they cannot go back to Chamizal even though the shutdown is over.
“We needed to move to The Women’s Club of El Paso, next to Cathedral High School,” Dahl said. “We had planned to go back to the Chamizal, but we are going to remain at the Women’s Club because we don’t think it would be fair for the community, and it would be very confusing from a marketing standpoint, so we will go with our new venue.”
Dahl said that the impact has not been big and that their transition has been smooth because of help from the Women’s Club of El Paso.
“It was all thanks to the president of the Women’s Club, who stepped right in, looked at the calendar and said ‘yes, go ahead and do it’,” Dahl said. “It was also a good way to promote the Women’s Club, the Chamizal Memorial and us.”
Although Shakespeare on the Rocks has been working with the Chamizal for more than three years, Dahl said that they feel positive about performing at the Women’s Club of El Paso.
“I think there’s always a chance that we will re-educate the people about our location and also the Chamizal will help us inform anyone that we have moved,” Dahl said. “Hopefully, in a near future we will return to the Chamizal, but also keeping our shows at the Women’s Club.”
Priscilla Duran, former teacher’s assistant at UTEP and actress for Shakespeare on the Rocks, felt disappointed when she received the news that the company would need to change their venue.
“This is going to be my debut at Shakespeare on the Rocks,” Duran said. “I’ve been following them since their early productions and it was extremely hard for me because I loved the Chamizal stage, but luckily we found a new place.”
Despite the many changes, Duran feels comfortable with their new venue, but would love to go back to Chamizal someday.
“The theater is beautiful and we needed to take this new opportunity, besides it is a historic venue,” Dahl said. “Although we would love to go back and work with El Chamizal again, we can’t because we sent the advertisement out and we can’t retract them, but hopefully some day.”
Alina Anchondo, sophomore linguistics major and scout at Messengers of Peace, said that national parks are the one thing that shouldn’t have been shut down.
“National parks are a very important part of the lives of every individual,” Anchondo said. “Not only do they help protect and preserve the flora and fauna that are risk of disappearing, but they also hold our history and memories.”
Anchondo said national parks can be great means of escape for everyone and offer more than people know about.
“Personally, I especially appreciate the respite I can get from the busy lifestyle I live,” Anchondo said. “Parks such as Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park or even the Chamizal are great to spend great family time. Breathing fresh air and being in contact with nature are important activities that teach us the values of life.”