WHO & WHY WE ARE
Shakespeare endures because he defines our need to explore the limits of our creativity, our need to understand our foibles, our follies, and our miraculous feats of extraordinarily simple life; in short, he defines our very humanity.
Shakespeare brings out the best of everyone involved. Those who perform him find themselves reaching above their perceived limitations. Those in attendance reach outside themselves to share the wonder they have experienced. Too many people are denied this profound linking of community either through economics or lack of opportunity. Shakespeare belongs to everyone, no matter their race, their nationality, and their prejudices: We all bleed when we are pricked. That Shakespeare wrote in England, in English, and primarily about English characters signifies nothing: he wrote in the world and he wrote about humanity as a whole.
It is in this spirit that we of the Woodward Shakespeare Festival seek to unite the community in and around Fresno through the human need of a common experience. It is in this spirit that we wish to make our contribution to the culture of California's Central Valley free to the entire community. It is in this spirit that we seek to create not only performances but also a Festival to strengthen and build that community through the deeper understanding and celebration of our common human understanding and the paradox that what makes us unique also makes us the same.
The Woodward Shakespeare Festival's Mission is to present live theatre productions for the cultural education, entertainment, and inspiration of our community, and to make our contribution to the arts of California's Central Valley accessible to everyone. All performances are free of charge.
The Woodward Shakespeare Festival began as the conception of S. Eric Day and Brandon Weis, two local actors who, in the fall of 2001, saw the potential for a season of plays produced outdoors in a festival environment, and that would be free and accessible to all.
By 2004, Christien Sweeney had come aboard, and Day and Sweeney helmed the productions of the first two seasons: Much Ado About Nothing & Romeo and Juliet (2005), and A Midsummer Night's Dream & Macbeth (2006). By 2007, WSF had become a non-profit organization in the public trust and the summer festival averaged 10,000 patrons each year.
The Woodward Shakespeare Festival continues its commitment to Day's and Weis's original conception, now producing three plays a year.
WSF thanks the many people who continue to make us successful: the casts and crews, the audiences, our patrons, the critics, our corporate sponsors and community partners. Your enthusiasm for our labors and your passion for our mission are the inspiration for all that we do and all that we aspire to do.
Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Christien Sweeney
Romeo & Juliet, directed by S. Eric Day
A Midsummers Night's Dream, directed by Christein Sweeney
Macbeth, directed by S. Eric Day
Othello, directed by J.J. Cobb
Taming of the Shrew, directed by Daniel Moore
Twelfth Night, directed by Lars Thorson
Hamlet, directed by Arlene Schulman
As You Like It, directed by Michael Peterson
Richard III, directed by Heather Parish
Merchant of Venice, directed by Heather Parish
King Lear, directed by Brian Sivesind
The Comedy of Errors, directed by Brad Myers
All My Sons by Arthur Miller, directed by Michael Oldham
Romeo and Juliet, directed by Daniel Moore
The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Gabriela Lawson
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, directed by Maggie McClellan
Henry V, directed by Adam Meredith