We are excited to welcome Tyrone Beasley as the new Artistic Director for Nebraska Shakespeare! Earlier this week, Tyrone stepped in as Artistic Director for Nebraska Shakespeare. Although his first official day as Artistic Director was on July 12th, he has already been working with the organization as director and adaptor for a hip-hop version of Romeo and Juliet for Nebraska Shakespeare On Tour, which opens this September.
Tyrone is an accomplished actor, has served as Artistic Director at the John Beasley Theatre, and has most recently served as the Artistic Associate/Director of Outbound Programs at The Rose Theater. An Omaha Benson High School graduate, Tyrone earned a BFA in studio arts from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He continued his education by attending California State University, Long Beach for graduate study in theater arts. There he taught acting classes as a teaching associate and was an ensemble member of California Repertory Company.
As he begins this new journey as Artistic Director, Tyrone stated that, “My vision for Nebraska Shakespeare is to be a welcoming, safe, diverse and inclusive space for the community to learn about, explore and enjoy the works of Shakespeare. To expand our programming and reach into the community by building strong partnerships throughout the state and ultimately, to be a nationally recognized destination for Shakespeare's works.”
As Board Member Adrian Blake expressed to Omaha World Herald’s Betsie Freeman; “We conducted a national search and talked to people coast to coast,” he said “We’re big fans of the work he has done at the Rose. We cast as wide a net as we could, and we are not disappointed that we could find someone who calls Omaha home.”
Support comes not only from within. From the same OWH article, Rose Theater Artistic Director, Matt Gutschick, expressed full support with, “I think he will not only be an incredible artistic leader, but will be a compassionate and clear voice for (Nebraska Shakespeare) in the community.”
Nebraska Shakespeare is excited for new chapters, moving forward with Tyrone Beasley.
Welcome aboard, Tyrone!
Get to know Tyrone Beasley!
A brief interview with Nebraska Shakespeare's new Artistic Director and Director of Education
Do you have any pets?
I have a cat named Meeka that my wife had when we started dating. We had two, they were sisters but sadly one passed away a few years ago.
What is a hobby of yours (aside from theatrical hobbies)?
I love to play tennis. I also paint and draw from time to time.
Favorite theatrical show of all time?
One of my favorite plays that I have been a part of is “Two Trains Running” by August Wilson. I played the role of Sterling and he is a character that is really out there and flies by the seat of his pants. Most of the other roles that I have played the characters were very serious. Sterling was a lot of fun to play.
What was one of your first Shakespearean theatre experiences? And did it influence your perspective on Shakespeare?
My first Shakespearean theatre experience as an actor was performing “The Merchant of Venice” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, directed by Peter Sellars. It influenced my perspective on Shakespeare due to Peter’s concept for the play. It was set in modern day, Venice Beach. It was a multi-racial cast that reflected the Los Angeles area during the times of the LA riots after the Rodney King verdicts. He connected this play with modern day social and racial issues and injustices, showing the relevancy of Shakespeare’s works to modern times.
What has been your favorite Shakespearean role to perform?
One of my favorite Shakespearean characters to play was Iago during my time at Cal State Long Beach. He was a fun villain to play.
What is your dream Shakespearean show to direct?
I have had a concept for a version of Hamlet that I have wanted to direct for a long time. There are quite a few of Shakespeare’s plays that I look forward to directing, but that is one that I have been thinking about for a while.
There are many people who question the relevance of Shakespeare: How would you respond to that questioning? How would you encourage people to understand Shakespeare and his works?
Shakespeare’s works are just as relevant today as they were during his time. Human nature is the same. We are still dealing with the same social issues today that he wrote about during his times. The stories are great. The writing is great.
If there is one thing COVID has reminded all of us as artists, what would it be?
I think COVID has reminded us as artists that we can adapt to changing conditions, adapt and reinvent the ways we can present our art and connect to audiences.
What are you most excited for as you start this journey at Nebraska Shakespeare?
I am really excited to connect with the community and form new partnerships.
One of your goals at Nebraska Shakespeare is collaboration, so: what is your vision for these collaborations and what do you hope to accomplish with them?
With these collaborations I hope to build Nebraska Shakespeare’s investment in the community and the community’s investment in Nebraska Shakespeare. I hope to bring Shakespeare’s works to new audiences through participation in various aspects of our processes of putting on productions, and learning about how Shakespeare’s works connect to today’s world.
What are some of your other short term and long term goals at Nebraska Shakespeare?
Some immediate short-term goals are to have a successful production of our fall touring show of Romeo and Juliet, a successful season of Shakespeare on the Green next summer, to form new partnerships throughout the community, to expand our outreach programing, and to be a welcoming, inclusive, equitable, diverse, accessible space for the community. Some long-term goals include having Nebraska Shakespeare be a nationally recognized destination for Shakespeare, to have our own facility, film productions to be aired on NETV, have radio play podcasts that include well-known actors.
Lastly, what has been your most memorable experience as an actor, director, or educator working with Shakespeare’s plays?
My most memorable experience as an actor working with Shakespeare was the production of “The Merchant of Venice”. It was my first professional play. It was at the Goodman Theatre. I worked with an acclaimed director, Peter Sellars. I worked with actors that I had seen in movies prior to that, including Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Butler, John Ortiz and Del Close. We did a two-week workshop in New York prior to the run in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre. After the run in Chicago, we toured Europe, performing at The Royal Shakespeare Company in London, Thalia Theater in Hamburg, Germany, and MC93 Bobigny in Paris.
A link to the full Omaha World Herald article:
For more information about Nebraska Shakespeare’s On Tour production of Romeo and Juliet, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT Tyrone Beasley:
No stranger to the stage Tyrone has worked with acclaimed directors: Peter Sellars (The Merchant of Venice, It is Now Our Time), Claude Purdy (Jitney), Charles Marowitz (Shakespeare), David Wheeler (The Trials of Ezra Pound) and Antonio Banderas (Crazy in Alabama), among others. Tyrone has performed in many theaters around the globe including The Goodman Theatre (Chicago), Victory Gardens Theatre (Chicago), Thalia Theater (Hamburg, Germany), MC93 Bobigny (Paris, France) and The Royal Shakespeare Company (London, England). He has worked in front of the camera and behind the scenes in post-production on film and television projects for Disney, Fox, Sony, VH1, TriStar Pictures and the BBC.
An Omaha Benson High School graduate, Tyrone earned a BFA in studio arts from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He attended California State University, Long Beach for graduate study in theater arts, taught acting classes there as a teaching associate and was an ensemble member of California Repertory Company. Tyrone served as the Artistic Director at The John Beasley Theater (JBT) in Omaha for ten years, he managed and taught the theater’s workshop programs that were a part of JBT’s mission of community outreach and developing a local pool of trained actors. He also acted in and directed numerous plays at the JBT.