“We are such stuff,” Prospero observes in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” “as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” O forsooth, but be not vexed, dear reader. For, if thou wilt, while thy time on stage is at hand and thy little candle burns, thou needest not be merely some walking shadow, some poor player strutting and fretting thine hours away, not when the Nashville Shakespeare Festival is in town, dishing out the choicest cuts of culture like there’s no tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Zounds! Get thee to a company; the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s got it going on!
Founded in 1988 by a group of actors wanting to perform Shakespeare in the park, the nonprofit Nashville Shakespeare Festival (NSF) has grown with the city into a vibrant cultural treasure with a mission to educate and entertain the entire Midsouth through professional Shakespearean experiences. These experiences entail much more than just the NSF’s beloved Summer Shakespeare productions of the past thirty years (formerly Shakespeare in the Park), which have now moved to their cool new digs in The Yard at One C1TY. The NSF experiences also include coproductions with local universities and collaborations with museums; they include “pop-up” style readings and playful parodies of contemporary pop cultural icons translated into Shakespearean speech. There is also a partnership with the Nashville Public Library in the form of a monthly reading circle of Shakespeare's plays. It’s called “Shakespeare Allowed!” and has been going for over a decade, currently reaching into the middle of the fourth time through the canon.
This April, do not neglect to see “As You Like It.” Coproduced with Lipscomb University, the play runs for three days in the Shamblin Theater on campus. In the merry month of May, attend the NSF fundraiser “Jester’s Dead,” a staged reading of the original “Top Gun” screenplay as the Bard would have written it. Also in May is another collaboration with the Frist, “Shakespeare in the Galleries,” an immersive performance in which NSF actors and musicians will fuse carefully curated poems, songs, and instrumentals with the artwork of J.M.W. Turner, the great English artist of the Romantic period.
As for this season’s Summer Shakespeare, it’s “What You Will” (Twelfth Night), a comedy set in contemporary Nashville. And, while you are certainly welcome to go as a groundling, consider treating yourself, friends and family to the “Royal Package” as the NSF teams up with the Italian restaurant Pastaria to provide a lifetime memory: reserved VIP parking in the adjacent garage at oneC1TY, pre-show reception and dinner catered by Pastaria on the private, 2nd floor terrace overlooking The Yard, and reserved, comfortable chairs in the center of the action. Also, in case you miss the performance at The Yard this summer or simply want to see the NSF's great performance at another venue, the Summer Shakespeare once again appears at Franklin's Williamson County Performing Arts Center at Academy Park for one weekend after their 5-week run in Nashville.
So, dear reader, do not go through thy vale of years, or even one more season for that matter, infirm of purpose; savor the delights the NSF has to offer! Sure, all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players, having their exits and their entrances and all that, but the actors of the NSF are particularly worth watching. But do not tarry! These our NSF actors, as I foretell you, are all spirits, and are someday melted into air, into thin air.
Nashville Shakespeare Festival Upcoming Schedule
Nashville Public Library, 3rd Floor
Shakespeare Allowed! Gather once a month to read aloud in circle. Everyone welcome! This month is Hamlet.
April 16th - 19th
Shamblin Theater on Lipscomb University campus
"AS YOU LIKE IT" Lipscomb Theatre partners with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival in this charming romantic comedy that centers on Rosalind and Orlando in the Forest of Arden for this pastoral adventure.
Nashville Public Library, 3rd Floor
Shakespeare Allowed! Gather once a month to read aloud in circle. Everyone welcome! This month is Twelfth Night..
Shakespeare in the Galleries. View the artwork of J.M.W. Turner augmented by the actors and musicians of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival.
Frist Gallery Admission
August 13-September 13
The Yard at ONEC1TY
The Summer Shakespeare 2020 will perform "WHAT YOU WILL" ("TWELFTH NIGHT"). Directed by Jim Warren, the family-friendly, outdoor festival includes a pre-show concert series, Shakespeare lecture series, a nightly Greenshow, and the main stage production.
FREE w/ $10 suggested donation per person.
(Royal Packages are now on sale.)