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Nashville Shakespeare Festival

Who We Are

In 1988, a group of local actors led by Chambers Stevens produced the first free-of-charge Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It in Centennial Park. The park’s central location was instrumental in making Shakespeare in the Park a success, attracting a wide and diverse audience. Inspired by strong support from the community for the first production, the founders followed up with a second free production in the Park, Pericles in 1989, and the Nashville Shakespeare Festival was born. Local attorney and actor Donald Capparella assisted those founders (who included longtime company member Jill Jackson), and when Stevens left Nashville after Pericles, Capparella was joined by Denice Hicks among many others to create the first professional production of Shakespeare in the Park, The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1990. With Capparella leading the Board and Denice Hicks guiding the artistic vision of the company during its twenty-nine-year history, the Festival has grown into one of the region’s leading professional theaters. Each summer 10,000 to 15,000 people attend the annual Shakespeare in Park production which is designed to be accessible to people from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Since 1988, over 300,000 Middle Tennesseans have attended, and admission has remained free, with donations welcomed at the Park for any who choose to support the Festival

What We Do

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 educational outreach and performances of Shakespeare’s plays.


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