Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan is pleased to announce the latest artists to join the cast of this year's season of Faire Faces and False Hearts, signed with gracious financial support from the RBC Foundation through its marvelous new initiative, the Emerging Artists Program.

Designed to foster the growth of young performing artists in our community, the RBC Foundation's Emerging Artists Program is an important new partnership that has created a fantastic opportunity for recent (or soon-to-be) drama graduates in our province to gain valuable experience on the Shakespeare stage. By helping to defray the cost of employment, the RBC Foundation has allowed Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan to hire three up-and-coming actors to take on challenging roles in this year's magnificent plays. The program falls in line with one of the Festival's core guiding principles - to employ Saskatchewan artists - and will expand on a long-standing tradition to hire at least one apprentice actor each summer.

Auditions were held in the spring, and this year's talented participants have now been cast. Saskatoon's own Cassidy Thomson will be joining the crew to take on the roles of "Mistress Quickly" in The Merry Wives of Windsor and "Nerissa" in The Merchant of Venice. Cassidy recently earned her B.F.A. in Acting at the University of Saskatchewan, and spent a special term abroad at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (in the UK) that focused solely on classical acting including Shakespeare and other Jacobean works. Later this year, she is starting her own acting company, called Thigh High Theatre, with a fellow U of S graduate.

Taking on the role of "Fenton" in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and "Solanio" in The Merchant of Venice, is Philip Stonhouse. Philip has lived in Saskatoon for most of his life and has long had a passion for theatre. As a teenager, he earned a special feature in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix for his role in a high school production of It's a Beautiful Life. He also spent several years performing at the Off-Broadway Dinner Theatre. After a brief term at the U of S, Philip was accepted into a special Theatre and Drama Studies Program at the University of Toronto at Mississauga (UTM) where he has performed in a number of shows, including a special joint production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, and The Taming of the Tamer (John Fletcher). Phillip has been training at UMT for three years.

Last, but not least, is Ed Mendez, who will be playing "Lorenzo" in The Merchant of Venice and "Slender" in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Ed is no stranger to the Shakespeare stage. In 2008 (having just earned his B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Saskatchewan) he performed for the first time as a professional in Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan's productions of The Tempest and Henry IV: Part I. Since then, he has been involved in a four-month long touring puppet show with Wide Open Theatre, and performed with up-and-coming comedy sketch group, Skit Skit. Later this year, Ed will be serving on the Board of Directors for the Live Five Independent Theatre group.

Beginning in June, this year's Emerging Artists will begin four weeks of intense rehearsals before appearing on stage with their professional acting partners in front of a live audience on the 7th of July. The process will be challenging; not only will they be working with some of Saskatchewan's finest professional artists - they'll be performing material written by the greatest and most influential playwright to have ever lived. Learning two plays in a four-week period is no easy task; however, by the end of the Festival's seven-week run, the actors will have performed in front of nearly 12,000 people on one of Saskatchewan's most demanding stages, allowing them to gain a wealth of new experience and exposure that is certain to help propel their professional careers.

The 2010 Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival runs from July 7th to August 16th next to the Mendel Art Gallery in the heart of Saskatoon. Featured performances include The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster. For more information, visit www.shakespeareonthesaskatchewan.com.