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The mission of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival is to educate and entertain the Mid-South community through professional Shakespearean experiences.

The Festival enriches and unifies our community with bold, innovative and relevant productions along with empowering, participatory educational programs, setting the community standard of excellence in productions and educational outreach of the works of Shakespeare.


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In 1988, following a dream of creating a Shakespearean theatre company in Nashville, a group of local actors produced the first free-of-charge Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It, and the Nashville Shakespeare Festival was born. During its twenty-five-year history, the Festival has grown into one the region’s leading professional theatres. Each summer 10,000 to 15,000 people attend the annual Shakespeare in the Centennial Park production which is designed to be accessible to people from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Since 1988, over 250,000 Middle Tennesseans have attended.

In 1992, in response to the need for an arts-in-education program in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival developed its educational outreach program, beginning with a series of fifty-minute versions of Shakespeare’s best-known works as “Shakespeare Samplers.” These abridged productions toured to middle and high schools throughout the state as well as regional colleges and universities. Through the years, The Festival has become a trusted resource for schools by offering enriching in-classroom workshops and creative opportunities for students. Over 180,000 students – many of whom had never experienced live theatre before – have been introduced to Shakespeare through the Festival’s interactive workshops and energetic performances.

In 2008, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival established its annual Winter Shakespeare production in residence at Belmont University’s Troutt Theater. The winter production allows The Festival to expand its repertoire to include plays that benefit from a more intimate indoor venue and to provide both public performances and daytime performances for schools. The first five winter productions, Hamlet, Richard III, The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Case, and Julius Caesar have served over 19,000 students and adults. The Festival has also expanded its outreach to include businesses and adult groups, providing workshops that exercise creative thinking, problem solving, and effective communication through working with Shakespeare’s language, characters, and themes.

Making your world a stage, all year round!

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