Nebraska Shakespeare Festival
Nebraska Shakespeare Festival is a nonprofit organization that was founded in September 1986 and performed its inaugural Shakespeare on the Green production in June of 1987. The company believes that Shakespeare’s life-affirming works are essential to broadening the cultural and educational environments of the community and strives to produce innovative, professional Shakespeare productions and educational forums. The company’s vision is to find ways to make Shakespeare a part of society beyond the literature and drama classrooms and, to this end, provides opportunities for continued interaction and learning about the Bard that are both free and accessible to a diverse audience. Nebraska Shakespeare is focused on delivering experiences that are true to the text and intent of Shakespeare, while also being creatively and dynamically relevant to contemporary life. Over 40,000 individuals serve annually through quality theatrical performances and educational forums including Shakespeare on the Green; the fall educational tour encompassing over 35 communities throughout Nebraska and Western Iowa; Camp Shakespeare for students ages eight to eighteen; Music Alive, a collaborative performance for middle- and high-school students in cooperation with the Omaha Symphony; and a sonnet writing contest for students and adults.
As part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival toured Julius Caesar directed by Associate Artistic Director Vincent Carlson-Brown, as part of their Nebraska Shakespeare on Tour program. In addition, the company provided workshops, post-performance talkbacks, and study guides. A total of 30 performances and 63 educational activities benefitted more than 6,000 middle- and high-school students from 31 schools located in Iowa and Nebraska.
Comment from Director Vincent Carlson-Brown:
The struggle of producing Julius Caesar for a young audience is that the majority of the first half of the play is very political. So our opening required a hook to capture their attention. We opened with a clap of thunder that transitioned into a heavy rock guitar which underscored the first action. I enjoyed watching the students get shocked out of passing and idle interest, quickly turning their attention to the stage as Marc Antony physically threw a straightjacketed Soothsayer out of the capital building. Then from the ground the Soothsayer shouts the famous line, “Beware the Ides of March!”