Bell Shakespeare

Bell Shakespeare is an Australian theatre company specialising in the works of William Shakespeare, his contemporaries and other classics. It is based in Sydney.

Bell Shakespeare
FounderJohn Bell
Sydney, Australia
Key people
Peter Evans (Artistic Director), Gill Perkins (Executive Director)
ProductsTheatre Productions, Learning Programs

The Bell Shakespeare vision is to create theatre that allows audiences of all walks of life to see themselves reflected and transformed through the prism of great writing. They are Australia's only national theatre company.[1][2] Each year they perform a Mainstage season consisting of three theatre productions, including an annual National Tour, and a Learning program to support students, teachers and communities nationally. Bell Shakespeare's Artistic Director is Peter Evans[3] and the Executive Director is Gill Perkins.[4]

One of the Company's artistic goals is "to use Shakespeare as Australians",[5] and Bell Shakespeare is well known for using contemporary styles to make Shakespeare accessible for modern audiences.[6]

Company historyEdit

Founded by John Bell in 1990, Bell Shakespeare began as a theatre company dedicated to producing the plays of William Shakespeare in a way that was relevant and exciting to Australian audiences.[7] With the support of an enlightened philanthropist, the late Tony Gilbert AM, and a small number of imaginative corporate and private supporters, Bell Shakespeare was able to mount productions and attract audiences.[8]

Now 30 years later, Bell Shakespeare enjoys the fruits of its labour: a history rich with legends of the stage; the establishment of a creative development arm, which ensures its artistic vibrancy; theatre, education and community programs characterised by unrivalled national reach and impact; and a loyal and passionate audience that has made the Company that began in a circus tent into a national icon.

Bell Shakespeare is listed as a Major Festival in the book Shakespeare Festivals Around the World.[9]

In 2016, the Australian Federal Government announced a $1 million contribution to the Bell Shakespeare capital campaign, which will help the Company secure a permanent home at Sydney's Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay.[10]

Artistic leadershipEdit

In 2012, John Bell announced the promotion of associate artistic director Peter Evans to the position of co-artistic director.[11] In 2015, John Bell retired from the Company, and Peter Evans was made sole Artistic Director.[12]


Since its foundation, Bell Shakespeare has had one unchangeable vision – to make Shakespeare accessible for all Australians, regardless of age, geographic location, or socioeconomic challenges.

Bell Shakespeare continues this vision with a range of learning opportunities for students and teachers in every Australian state and territory throughout the year. This includes in-school performances by The Players.[13] Inspired by the troupe of actors who appear in Hamlet, Bell Shakespeare's Players have been performing abridged adaptions of Shakespeare's works in schools since 1991.[8] A number of tailored workshops, masterclasses and residencies are also available to make Shakespeare accessible to students in an immersive and fun way. Each year, the company creates a theatre production specifically for students. Bell Shakespeare also provides professional learning for teachers.

A range of scholarships to support students and teachers are also provided. This includes the John Bell Scholarship, which provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students living in regional or remote areas who are interested in a career as a performer, and the regional teacher mentorship which is a fully funded year-long mentorship for teachers in regional, rural and remote Australian schools.[14]


Recent productionsEdit

Production history by playEdit

List of Bell Shakespeare productions (not including Learning productions or special events):[15]


  • Antony and Cleopatra (2001, 2018)
  • As You Like It (2003, 2018, 2015)
  • The Comedy of Errors (2002, 2013)
  • Coriolanus (1996)
  • Hamlet (1991, 2003, 2008, 2015, 2020)
  • Henry IV (1988, 2013)
  • Henry V (1999, 2014)
  • Julius Caesar (2001, 2011, 2018)
  • King Lear (1998, 2010)
  • Macbeth (1994, 1997, 2007, 2012, 2023)
  • Measure for Measure (2005)
  • The Merchant of Venice (1991, 1999, 2006, 2017)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (2000, 2004, 2014, 2021)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (1996, 2000, 2011, 2018)
  • Othello (2007, 2016)
  • Pericles (1995, 2009)
  • Richard III (1992, 2002, 2017)
  • Romeo and Juliet (1993, 1999, 2006, 2016, 2023)
  • The Taming of the Shrew (1994, 2002, 2009)
  • The Tempest (1997, 2001, 2006, 2015)
  • Titus Andronicus (2019)
  • Troilus and Cressida (2000)
  • Twelfth Night (1995, 2004, 2010, 2023)
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2005)
  • Wars of the Roses [Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, Henry VI, Part 3] (2005)
  • The Winter's Tale (1997, 2014)
  • Venus and Adonis (2008)



  1. ^ "Bell Shakespeare shows". StageCenta. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Bell Shakespeare". Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  3. ^ Hook, Chris (2015). "After a long handover Bell Shakespeare artistic director Peter Evans reveals his first season". Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Staff & Board". Bell Shakespeare. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Vision, Mission & Artistic Goals". Bell Shakespeare. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  6. ^ Litson, Jo (2014). "Bell Shakespeare turns 1664 classic Tartuffe into a modern comic masterpiece". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  7. ^ Bell, John (2004). John Bell – The Time of My Life. Sydney: Currency Press. ISBN 1-74114-134-6.
  8. ^ a b "History Of Bell Shakespeare – Bell Shakespeare". Bell Shakespeare. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  9. ^ Gregio, Marcus D. (2004). Shakespeare festivals around the world. Xlibris. ISBN 1413459072. OCLC 85474058.
  10. ^ WBPA. "Belle Shakespear. New Home at Pier 2/3". Archived from the original on 15 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  11. ^ Dow, Steve (4 October 2012). "Almost 'fat enough', Bell takes on Falstaff and hints at retirement". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. ^ "Artistic Director – Bell Shakespeare". Bell Shakespeare. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  13. ^ In-school performances,
  14. ^ "'Shakespeare intended it be performed': The key to helping children understand his texts". ABC News. 8 April 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Bell Shakespeare". AusStage. Retrieved 24 February 2017.

External linksEdit