Utah Shakespeare Festival

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Interior of the Adams Memorial Theater, a replica of the Globe Theatre.
West elevation of The Adams Theater

The Utah Shakespeare Festival presents classic and contemporary plays in repertory, with Shakespeare as their cornerstone. Their goal is to present plays which are enhanced by interactive festival experiences which entertain, enrich, and educate.

The Festival is held during the summer and fall on the campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, United States.


In 2000, the Festival was the recipient of America's Outstanding Regional Theatre Tony Award, presented by the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers. In 2001 it received the National Governors Association Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts for Artistic Productions.

The Seasons[edit]

The Adams Theater stage

The Festival produces an eight-show repertory season in the summer and fall of each year. Traditionally, four of the produced plays are written by Shakespeare or one of his contemporaries such as Christopher Marlowe, and the others are non-Shakespearean classics or works by more contemporary dramatists, one of which is usually a musical. The Shakespeare plays are usually performed in the outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theatre, which is modeled after Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The other plays are performed on an indoor proscenium stage, the Randall L. Jones Theatre. The Auditorium Theatre is used for matinee performances of plays normally produced at night in the Adams, and as a rainstage for Adams performances.

During the summer The Greenshow is performed outside before the evening productions. The Greenshow often includes comedic skits, sword fighting, and musical routines with dancing. During and before the performance people dressed (roughly) in period clothing walk around the courtyard (green) selling programs, telling jokes, and offering a selection of treats.[1]

The Festival also produces The New American Playwrights Project or N.A.P.P., a "plays in progress" series, featuring staged readings of new plays in a workshop setting These workshops take place each August at The Festival.

The 2014 season opens in preview on June 23 and runs through October 18. Seven plays make up the 53rd season: Henry IV, Part One, The Comedy of Errors,Measure for Measure, Into the Woods,Sense and Sensibility, Twelfth Night, Boeing, Boeing, and Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure. The Festival's web site is www.bard.org and patrons can purchase tickets by calling (800) PLAYTIX


The Festival was founded in 1961 by Fred C. Adams. After a stint in the New York theatre scene, he made his way to Cedar City, entering College of Southern Utah (later renamed as Southern Utah University) in 1959. He soon realized the potential for such a venture in the area, hoping to draw on the 150,000 or so tourists that come to the area's National Parks in the summer. He first traveled to Ashland, Oregon, to observe the operations of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is often regarded as one of the foremost festivals in the world. While in Ashland, Adams met and entensively interviewed OSF's founder, Angus L. Bowmer.

The Utah Shakespearean Festival produced its first season in 1962 on a makeshift platform on the college campus, drawing from students and townspeople to form its first company, who not only acted, but also built their own props, costumes, and stage. This first season featured three of Shakespeare's plays: The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and The Merchant of Venice. The first season yielded some 3,300 audience members and around $2,000 in profit, which was reinvested in the company to produce a second season the following year. In the years to come, the Festival would grow tremendously, and now plays to an estimated audience of 150,000 and has an operational budget of $5 million.

The Adams Shakespearean Theatre (also known as the Adams Memorial Theatre) was constructed on the University campus, and was completed in 1977. Designed by Douglas N. Cook, it is world-renowned for its accuracy in duplicating Shakespeare's Globe; the BBC used it as a filming location in 1981 for a documentary series on Shakespeare. Within a few years, the Adams Theatre will be replaced by a similar theater, which will include wider seats, and a retractable roof. The modern Randall L. Jones Theatre was completed for the 1989 season. Plans for a third theatre are being developed; it is expected to be a black box space, and will feature modern plays by living dramatists. The new theatre is part of the master-planned Utah Shakespeare Festival Centre for the Performing Arts, which will house a Renaissance study center, restaurants, pubs, and support facilities. It is expected to be completed within 10 years.

In 1991, Douglas Cook, Producing Artistic Director, was one of the co-founders of the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America.

In 2004, the Utah Shakespearean Festival was listed as a Major Festival in the book Shakespeare Festivals Around the World by Marcus D. Gregio (Editor).

In 2010, the Festival changed its name from the Utah Shakespearean Festival to the Utah Shakespeare Festival and revised its logo to reflect the change.


The Utah Shakespeare Festival has many educational programs, from Summer and Fall Classes to a school tour. A Shakespeare competition takes place each October, with schools from across the United States participating. The Shakespeare for Jr. Actors program, for ages 11 to 15, gives students an opportunity to learn about the plays of the season and see them all. At the end of the session, students perform scenes from the three Shakespeare plays.[2]


Fred C. Adams served as executive director of the festival from its founding until 2005, when he retired. Although retired, Adams continues to advise and assist the program.

In October 2007 R. Scott Phillips was named the executive director.[3] Phillips has been associated with the festival since 1974, when he was a junior at College of Southern Utah. He performed public-relations work for the festival during the summers. He became the festival's first full-time paid employee in 1977; he was managing director for 15 years and marketing director for 13 years before that.

Douglas N. Cook - Producing Artistic Director 1966–2002

G. Cameron Harvey - Producing Artistic Director 1969–2005

JR Sullivan - Associate Artistic Director 2002–2009

Kathleen F. Conlin - Associate Artistic Director 2003–2010

David Ivers - Artistic Director 2011 to present

Brian Vaughn - Artistic Director 2011 to present

The Green Show[edit]

The Greenshow is an outdoor performance that precedes each play during the summer season, excluding matinees. It is free. The actors do skits and most of them have minor roles in the six productions during the summer season.

Coordinates: 37°40′34.61″N 113°4′4.73″W / 37.6762806°N 113.0679806°W / 37.6762806; -113.0679806

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maxwell, Marsha (July 5, 2012). "Utah Shakespeare Festival Features Revamped Greenshow". About.com. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Utah Shakespeare Festival". Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  3. ^ Ivan Lincoln (21 October 2007). "Shakespearean fest names new executive director". Deseret Morning News. pp. E13. 

External links[edit]