Flatwater Shakespeare Company (FSC) proudly announces a season of “Mischief, Mayhem, and Mystery” for 2017-18. The season offers classic and modern and new plays, along with educational outreach initiatives for communities in Lincoln, Nebraska. Because of its exciting ties to local history and lore, FSC's new season has been selected as an Official Program of the Nebraska Sesquicentennial Celebration. This summer, we invite audiences to get “merry on the prairie” with The Merry Wives of Windsor, which has been selected as Flatwater Shakespeare’s summer touring show. For six years, the FSC tour has staged free, high-quality Shakespeare productions at local parks and other outdoor locations throughout the City of Lincoln and surrounding areas. This year, in honor of the Nebraska 150 celebration, Executive Artistic Director Becky Boesen will set the Bard’s beloved comedy on the Great Plains in 1867, the year Nebraska achieved statehood. Audiences can expect rollicking fun and belly laughs (often at the expense of Plump Jack Falstaff), along with live music, in a show geared towards audiences of all ages. “The women in this play, the Merry Wives themselves, are the primary movers of the comedy,” says Boesen. “There is something about their independent drive that parallels the spirit of the intrepid American settler – especially the female variety.” Flatwater Shakespeare is delighted to partner with Pioneers Park Nature Center to provide a special performance event at the one-room schoolhouse at Pioneers Park on June 24. The tour of The Merry Wives of Windsor kicks off at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka Stables with a first weekend of paid performances (all tickets $10), June 8-11. The show then tours throughout and beyond Lincoln, with two weekends of free performances, June 15-18 and 21-25. All performances start at 7 p.m., with the exception of the June 24 performance at Pioneers Park Nature Center, which will begin at 2 p.m. Sites will be listed at www.flatwatershakespearecompany.org. This fall, FSC digs deep into mystery at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka Stables with a two week run of The Weir by Conor McPherson. From its first performance in 1997, the play has captivated audiences: “In a remote country pub in Ireland, newcomer Valerie arrives and becomes spellbound by an evening of ghostly stories told by the locals who drink there. With a whiff of sexual tension in the air and the wind whistling outside, what starts out as blarney soon turns dark as the tales drift into the realm of the supernatural. No one expects Valerie to have a tale of her own, or imagines how it may change everything.” The Weir continues FSC’s tradition of exploring contemporary, language-driven drama, along with classic theater. The play examines the importance and power of sharing one’s personal stories. As Ken Jaworowski of The New York Times says, “The Weir invites us to re-examine the theater, and to ask ourselves what we seek from stories and those who tell them.” The Weir runs September 28 to October 1, and October 4-8, with all performances beginning at 7 p.m. FSC will be collecting local ghost stories and legends in the weeks leading up to The Weir, as well as before and after performances, plus stories from up to 150 years ago in honor of the Nebraska Sesquicentennial. Those stories will then be developed into an original multi-media performance piece, The Lincoln Shadow History Project, developed by Timothy Scholl with local playwright Brian Bornstein and filmmaker/storyteller Colleen Kenney Fleischer. Scholl will also direct the piece, which will premiere in the spring of 2018. “Thinking back on our 150-year anniversary, we wanted to explore the way ‘shadow histories’ have shaped our experience as Nebraskans,” says Scholl. “There is a great deal of mystery in the unexplained. We want to use that as a catalyst for performance.” Further details about this project, including performance dates and times, will be released in the fall of 2017. FSC is especially pleased to offer expanded opportunities to children in Lincoln with a new initiative designed to bring free theatre classes to local neighborhoods. Little But Fierce will be offered in three neighborhoods this summer. The pilot program of Little But Fierce is made possible in part through the generous support of the Lincoln Community Foundation and will explore Shakespeare’s poetry, while also encouraging students to develop their expressive voices by writing their own sonnets. Conducted by Boesen, with the participation of FSC Education Director Stephen Buhler, classes will culminate in a performance which combines Shakespeare’s words with the students’ writing, presented free of cost to the community. “We are passionate about introducing young people to Shakespeare’s words, but equally passionate about introducing our community to the important words that our young people have to say. This program is a starting point for that,” says Boesen. This season is made possible by grants, private donations, ticket sales, and the generous support of Ameritas, a Flatwater Shakespeare Company 2017-2018 Silver Season Sponsor. For more information about Flatwater Shakespeare Company, please visit www.flatwatershakespearecompany.org.