Southern Shakespeare Festival
The Southern Shakespeare Festival was inspired by American entrepreneur Michael J. Trout in November 1994 as the Florida Theater Project. In the Summer of 1995, Michael Trout organized a touring company which was written, directed, and performed by David Klein. "Words...Words...Words: An Evening of Shakespeare" toured local theaters, regional high schools, and community arts centers. Trout then approached Florida State University Dean Emeritus Richard G. Fallon for his help to establish a free Shakespeare in the park festival, which Trout modeled after Joseph Papp's New York free Shakespeare-in-the-park. The free festival and renaissance ran from that 1996-2000 as an open air free festival and renaissance fare located in the downtown area behind Tallahassee's City Hall in Kleman Plaza.
Its inaugural free Shakespeare-in-the-park production in 1996, A Midsummer's Nights Dream, directed by Russian director Irina Brown, saw over 30,000 spectators according to the local newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat (Sunday, December 29 article). It is recognized as one of the most successful free theater festivals in Tallahassee with over 80,000 spectators and over 20,000 students benefitting from its educational programming.
In 2012, the Southern Shakespeare Festival was revived thanks to Dr. Kevin Carr, Dr. Brent Griffin, and a dedicated group of Tallahassee theater artisans, most notably Laura W. Johnson, Executive Director, Catherine Leonard, Deputy Director, and Lanny Thomas, Artistic Director. The Capital City Amphitheater at Cascades Park is the new home of the revitalized Festival and its first production, which ran April 17–19, 2015, was A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Lanny Thomas, and starred special guest AEA artist, Jef Canter as Bottom.
- 1995 Southern Shakespeare Festival Touring Company. Words... word... words... Written and Directed by David Klein
- 1996 A Midsummer Night's Dream – Directed By Irina Brown, and starring UK actor Jack Klaff, Wil Johnson and US actress Jennifer Harper.
- 1997 The Taming of the Shrew – Directed by Ian Wooldridge, starring Wil Johnson and Brigid Zengeni.
- 1998 As You Like It
- 1999 Merry Wives of Windsor
- 2000 The Tempest (last production)
- 2015 A Midsummer Night's Dream - Starring Jef Canter and Laura W. Johnson
- 2016 A Comedy of Errors
- 2017 As You Like It
Media articles includeEdit
- ..Rise to Southern Shakespeare Festival– Montgomery Advertiser, Sunday Nov. 22, 1998
- Top 10 in Tallahassee - Tallahassee Democrat, Sunday, December 29 article
- Shrew - Tallahassee Democrat Limelight Feature - Friday, May 9, 1997
- Relationship Advice from Ol`Will - Break Magazine - May 7–13, 1997
- Southern Shakespeare Festival to Return in 2015 - Tallahassee Democrat, Friday, June 6, 2014 article
- Southern Shakespeare Festival seeks volunteers for April revival - Tallahassee Democrat & The Shakespeare Standard, Friday, August 8, 2014 article
- Local Thespians to Bring Shakespeare Back to Tallahassee - WTXL - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 article
- Perspectives - Southern Shakespeare Festival - WFSU - Wednesday, January 8, 2015
- A Look at the Music of Shakespeare - WFSU - January 30, 2015
- Tallahassee’s Shakespeare Revival - Tallahassee Magazine - March–April 2015
- Laura Johnson helps re-set the stage for Shakespeare - Tallahassee Democrat, Wednesday, March 18, 2015 article
- SOUTHERN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL PRESENTS A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM - Tallahassee Downtown
Founding Board Members includedEdit
Original: Richard G. Fallon, Dean Minardi, June Strauss, Michael J. Trout, Tina Campbell, Janet Hinkle, and Sue Dick.
Current: Dean Minardi, Coman Leonard, and Jonathan Johnson