Our Mission: Inspired by Shakespeare's work, Nebraska Shakespeare creates professional productions
and accessible programs that ENGAGE, EDUCATE, and ENTERTAIN.
From the Artistic Director
"2016 marks the 4th Centennial of Shakespeare's death. To commemorate, Nebraska Shakespeare is thrilled to present our 30th Anniversary Season alongside the Worldwide Celebration of Shakespeare. We dedicate this year and honor our longtime patrons and supporters, Harold "Andy" Andersen and Fred Simon, as we continue our mission to Engage, Educate, and Entertain.
For November, we have planned a two-part season finale with founding universities, Creighton and UNO, titled A War of Roses. This new adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry the Sixth Trilogy will feature the collaborative efforts of students, faculty, and alumni of both universities. Also, we are thrilled to engage with a new community partner as we work with The First Folio exhibit at The Durham Museum in April.
Our education programs continue to grow each year. Our Silverscreen series, Director's Reading, Sonnet Contest, Camp Shakespeare, and our 11th annual fall tour promise to reach thousands of students of all ages across the state of Nebraska. This year we take Hamlet on the road and we are ecstatic at the opportunity.
Of course we hope to entertain and delight Shakespeare and theatre fans with two of his most popular plays, The Taming of the Shrew and The Tragedy of Macbeth. And for the first time in our history we'll present a play well after dusk. For those with an aptitude for late nights, we'll begin our July 5th Macbeth at 11pm, an evening sure to be a howling good time.
We hope you connect with Shakespeare throughout the year. We definitely will, we have a lot planned!"
The idea for an outdoor Shakespeare festival in Omaha was first conceived in the early 1980's at Creighton University. In its history, Nebraska Shakespeare has gained national recognition for its consistently high-quality productions, the beauty of the Elmwood Park setting, and for steadily growing, enthusiastic audiences.
"Come early, bring your blankets, picnic baskets and families
to enjoy a full evening of outdoor entertainment"
In its history, Shakespeare On The Green has gained national recognition for its consistently high-quality productions, the beauty of the Elmwood Park setting, and for steadily growing, enthusiastic audiences. Thanks to the dedicated core group of benefactors, volunteers, and most importantly, skilled artists, Shakespeare On The Green has become a summer tradition for the people of Omaha and the Great Plains region.
The idea for an outdoor Shakespeare festival in Omaha was first conceived in the early 1980's at Creighton University. Fr. Don Doll, then Chairman of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, organized summer performances at the Creighton Jesuit Institute for the Arts. In the spring of 1986, Fr. Doll approached Alan Klem, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Creighton, about pursuing the idea of a festival in Omaha. Klem had past experience as one of the founders and Artistic Directors of Shakespeare in the Park in Ft. Worth, TX, now one of the larger summer festivals in the country.
Alan knew this idea needed broad support so he approached Dr. Cindy Phaneuf, then Assistant Professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The two developed the idea and gained the mutual support of their respective universities. Harold Andersen, publisher of the Omaha World-Herald, and his wife Marian agreed to serve as co-chairmen of the organization and the result was Nebraska Shakespeare, a non-profit professional theatre with a first-year budget of $60,000.
Initial funding for Nebraska Shakespeare came from a small but dedicated group of local corporations, foundations and private individuals. In addition to the Andersens, the original Board of Trustees included Michael G. Morrison, S. J., President of Creighton University; Dr. Del Weber, Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha; Omaha attorney, Harold Rock; and Joan Walsh. These board members were soon joined by James and Ruth Keene, Marian Ivers, and Lynda Scribante. Nebraska Shakespeare owes its existence to these community leaders and the continued support of the two universities, the Omaha World Herald, the Omaha Parks Department, the Douglas County Tourism Division and the Nebraska Arts Council.
Through the years, Nebraska Shakespeare has continued to expand its programming to meet the growing needs of the community and to further celebrate the life and works of William Shakespeare. An early addition to programming was the two-week Camp Shakespeare for students interested in learning about and performing Shakespeare.
In 1997, Nebraska Shakespeare started its sonnet-writing contest, christened in 2005 as the Anne Dittrick Sonnet Contest in memoriam of Anne Triba Dittrick. The contest keeps the Shakespearean sonnet form alive, inspiring hundreds of new sonnets annually.
In 2006, Shakespeare On Tour kicked off its first annual season as a means of reaching students and communities not served by Shakespeare On The Green. The Taming of the Shrew was chosen as the first production to mirror and commemorate Nebraska Shakespeare’s first On The Green production.
In 2011, Shakespeare On The Silverscreen was created. The festival screens and explores Shakespeare’s work as adapted for film, providing audiences the chance to compare the films to their staged counterparts.
In 2012, a Director’s Reading Series was created by current Artistic Director, Vincent Carlson-Brown. The program discusses and gives life to Shakespeare’s lesser known or produced works.
Nebraska Shakespeare remains committed to its partner universities and their students and, in 2016, will produce A War of Roses, a collaborative production of the Henry VI trilogy in two parts. The first part is to be presented at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the second part is to be presented at Creighton University.
In keeping with its mission to engage, educate, and entertain its audiences, Nebraska Shakespeare also offers a variety of activities including workshops; film, literary, and production seminars; classes; backstage tours; and the introduction of the state-wide event: Talk Like Shakespeare Day.
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