American Shakespeare Theatre
The American Shakespeare Theatre was a theater company based in Stratford, Connecticut, United States. It was formed in the early 1950s by Lawrence Langner, Lincoln Kirstein, John Percy Burrell and philanthropist Joseph Verner Reed. The American Shakespeare Shakespeare Festival Theatre was constructed and the program opened on July 12, 1955 with Julius Caesar.
Plays were produced at the Festival Theatre in Stratford from 1955 until the company ceased operations in the mid-1980s. The company focused on American interpretations of William Shakespeare's plays, but occasionally produced plays by other playwrights. It was the home of the American Shakespeare Festival.
The last full season of the festival as a producing organization was 1982. The last production on the theater stage was a one-person show of The Tempest in September 1989. Ongoing efforts include plans to raise money to renovate the Theatre itself.
Actors involved with American Shakespeare Theatre include Alex Cord, Earle Hyman, David Groh, Katharine Hepburn, Fred Gwynne, Morris Carnovsky, Will Geer, John Houseman, Pernell Roberts, James Earl Jones, Joseph Mandell, Christopher Plummer, Hal Miller Lynn Redgrave, Christopher Walken, René Auberjonois, David Birney, Meredith Baxter, Michael Moriarty, Jan Miner, Kate Reid, Fritz Weaver, Dirk Benedict, Margaret Hamilton and Charles Siebert.
The 9th Festival! Stratford presented A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by CT Free Shakespeare, on the grounds July 31-Aug 1, 2013.
One of seven crests donated by the Timex corporation was stolen in March 2012. Each of the crests represented a different Shakespearean play. Timex has had a long affiliation with the theatre, starting with a donation of "the world's only properly calibrated sundial" in 1956.
In 2013, Beer Manager Steven Bilodeau of Wines Unlimited and Pete Rodrigues of Captain's Keg organized a beer festival on the grounds of the American Shakespeare Theatre called the ShakesBeer Festival in order to raise funds towards the restoration and reopening of the famed theatre. The ShakesBeer Festival held on Aug 23, 2014 raised over 30K and donated 20K to the restoration efforts after final expenses. This event is designed to be an annual event in order to bring in a source of revenue to the theatre, and raise awareness.
- Cooper, Roberta Krensky (1986). The American Shakespeare Theatre: Stratford, 1955–1985. Associate University Presses. ISBN 978-0-918016-88-1.
- Engle, Ron; Londré, Felicia Hardison; Watermeyer, Daniel J., eds. (1995). Shakespeare Companies and Festivals: An International Guide. Westport: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-27434-7.
- Houseman, John; Landau, Jack (1959). The American Shakespeare Festival: The Birth of a Theatre. New York: Simon & Schuster. OCLC 778003.
- Rizzo, Frank (20 August 2009). "The Story Behind the Former American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford…". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
- Guide to American Shakespeare Theatre Plays and prompt books at Houghton Library, Harvard University
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