Woodward Shakespeare Festival

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The Woodward Shakespeare Festival is a theater company that performs three plays each summer in Fresno, California. The festival performs both Shakespearean and Non-Shakespearean productions from June to September.[1]

The official logo of the Woodward Shakespeare Festival


The Woodward Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit organization that has provided free local entertainment for the past ten years in Fresno, CA. The Woodward Shakespeare Festival perform their plays on an outdoor stage at Woodward Park (Fresno). The festival is funded through donations and by local sponsorship & patronage.[2]

From 2010, the theater company has produced two Shakespeare plays each summer, until 2011 when the company expanded its season with a third play written by an author besides William Shakespeare. On average, the festival attracts more than 10,000 patrons each year.

In addition to staged performances during the summer, the Woodward Shakespeare Festival has also produced other forms of Shakespearean entertainment such as Staged Readings of various plays at the Woodward Park Library. In 2012, The Woodward Shakespeare Festival participated in the Fresno Rogue Festival, performing a comedy routine based on the bard and his work.[3]

In 2013, the festival began a new summer youth program called, The YES Project. The program is in partnership with Fresno Pacific University and hosts local teens for a 3 1/2-week summer workshop exploring Shakespearean style and devising original material based on a Shakespeare play.[4]


In 2005, The Woodward Shakespeare festival staged its first season. The theater company was originally conceived by S. Eric Day and Brandon Weis. Christien Sweeney also joined the company and, with Day, helmed the first two seasons. In 2007, the company became an official non-profit organization in the public trust.

Previous Productions[edit]

Tenth Anniversary & 2014 Season[edit]

Marking the tenth anniversary of the festival, the upcoming season of the Woodward Shakespeare Festival will feature productions of Macbeth, directed by Artistic Director Greg Taber, The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Aaron Spjute, and The Tempest directed by Julie Ann Keller. [5]

Critical Response[edit]

Donald Munro, a local reviewer for the Fresno Bee, has often praised the productions put on by the Woodward Shakespeare Festival. In 2007, he declared their production of The Taming of the Shrew to be "Audacious and bold" and added, "it doesn't outlive its welcome. It's daring, fun and perfect for an outdoor summer breeze." [6] In 2011, Munro allotted praise for the company's production of All My Sons which was the company's first foray into Non-Shakespearean territory. After viewing a performance, Munro wrote in his review "There's no doubt "All My Sons" still has the power to move audiences. As I left my seat at the conclusion, I walked by three semi-stunned young men still grappling with the intensity of what they had just seen."[7]


  1. ^ "WSF - Woodward Shakespeare Festival". Woodwardshakespeare.org. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
  2. ^ "Woodward Shakespeare Festival's Page". My.FresnoArts.net. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
  3. ^ "Rogue Festival 2012 - Almost Shakespeare: WSF Goes Rogue!". Roguefestival.net. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
  4. ^ "The YES Project". woodwardshakespeare.prg. Retrieved 2014-07-11.
  5. ^ http://www.woodwardshakespeare.org/#
  6. ^ Taylor, Anthony. "Theater review: 'The Taming of the Shrew'". fresnobeehive.com. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
  7. ^ Ryan, Amelia. "Theater Review: 'All My Sons'". fresnobeehive.com. Retrieved 2012-04-24.

Coordinates: 36°51′58.6″N 119°47′04.3″W / 36.866278°N 119.784528°W / 36.866278; -119.784528