In 1972, Robert “Bob” Glenn, inspired by New York Shakespeare Festival’s egalitarian mission, performed a free one-man version of Hamlet at Fair Park’s Band Shell and the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas was born. More than four decades later, the company, now Shakespeare Dallas, has grown into one of North Texas’ most treasured cultural institutions offering all members of the community an opportunity to experience Shakespeare.
Using Shakespeare’s works as a cornerstone, Shakespeare Dallas serves the Southwest region with fun and accessible indoor and outdoor theatre, integrated school programs, and cultural enrichment for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Shakespeare Dallas accomplishes its mission through the following programs: Shakespeare in the Park outdoor productions, Shakespeare on the Go! education programs for grades 3 – 12 and Shakespeare Unplugged adult enrichment programs that deepen the engagement with the world’s greatest writer.
Shakespeare in the Park, the core of Shakespeare Dallas’ programs, has grown into four fully produced plays each year featuring classically trained actors. Since 1973, Shakespeare Dallas’ main production has been in Samuell Grand Park located in South- East Dallas. In 2001, Shakespeare Dallas began presenting productions in suburbs surrounding Dallas, such as Addison and Coppell. Because of the nature of the outdoor venue and all-access ticket pricing policy, annual attendance numbers can reach upwards of 30,000 people. In 2019, the inaugural indoor Winter Season was launched at the Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District. Since its inception in 1984, Shakespeare on the Go! has served over 500,000 students in North Texas with in-school arts education programming. One of the few programs in the area based on the works of Shakespeare and designed using the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards, it has evolved into an elementary school tour, a middle/high school tour, after school drama classes, and summer camps. Added in 2006, the community engagement program, Shakespeare Unplugged, enhanced the company’s mission to serve a diverse community of adults with targeted programming. It includes a book club series that focuses on the current Shakespeare productions and a one-day Elizabethan Winter Faire and Market in December with an estimated attendance of 1,000. 2017 saw the completion of a five-year partnership with AT&T Performing Arts Center in which Shakespeare’s entire canon was performed in a staged reading format. Shakespeare Unplugged also provides Intensive Acting Workshops twice a year, ensuring a strong pool of talented local performers. Guiding Shakespeare Dallas since 2002, Executive and Artistic Director Raphael Parry has provided the company with stable leadership. Shakespeare Dallas is currently in its fourth year of a five-year strategic plan. As part of this plan, Shakespeare Dallas, in coordination with the City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Department, will be enhancing the Samuell Grand Amphitheater and continuing the company’s mission to make Shakespeare’s work and live theater accessible to all.