Shakespeare in the Park

What is Shakespeare in the Park and Why Should You Like It?

“What is Shakespere in the Park and why should you like it?” students ask me.

I dodge the question, because….

I have never seen a Shakespeare in the Park production. (Ok, don’t judge me.)

Have you?

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I bet it is super cool, though.

I’ve often wondered who created it. Here is what I found out.

From Wickipedia,

“Shakespeare in the Park is a term for outdoor festivals featuring productions of William Shakespeare‘s plays. The term originated with the New York Shakespeare Festival in New York City‘s Central Park, originally created by Joseph Papp. This concept has been adapted by many theatre companies, and over time, this name has expanded to encompass outdoor theatre productions of the playwright’s works performed all over the world.

Shakespeare in the Park started as an idea to make theatre available to people of all walks of life, so that it would be as readily available as library books.[1] The performances are more often than not free admission to the general public, usually presented outdoors as a summer event. These types of performances can be seen by audiences around the world, with most festivals adapting the name for their productions, such as Vancouver‘s Bard on the Beach. Many festivals incorporate workshops, food, and other additions to the performances making this type of theatre experience an interactive community event.”


So FREE  admission to a play by the Bard.  That’s great! Anyone can attend from any walk of life.  That’s the way theatre should always be presented.

Here are cities in the U.S. who have Shakespeare in the Park:


The Montford Park Players, a community theater company, has been staging free Shakespeare productions in Asheville, North Carolina since 1973. The productions were first staged at a municipal park on Montford Avenue and, in 1993, moved to its current location, the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre.[2]


The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival present productions outdoors each summer in the Meadow at the Evergreen Museum & Library.[3]


Commonwealth Shakespeare Company presents professional productions of Shakespeare in Boston Common. The first production was in 1996 at Copley Square; a year later the program was moved to the Commons, first at the Parkman Bandstand and more recently at the Parade Ground.[4]


Shakespeare in Delaware Park describes itself as the United States’ 2nd largest Shakespeare festival (following New York Shakespeare Festival). It is held in Buffalo, New York‘s Delaware Park.[5]

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Buffalo’s production of Hamlet, the witches.


Inspired by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Robert “Bob” Glenn started The Shakespeare Festival of Dallas in 1971 as a free summer Shakespeare Festival. Renamed Shakespeare Dallas in 2005, the company produces three free Shakespeare productions each summer at the Samuel-Grand Amphitheatre in Lakewood.[6]

Jersey City

The Hudson Shakespeare Company, founded by L. Robert Johnson in 1992, features a summer season where the company stages productions for each month of the summer. Besides Shakespeare standards such as Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, they often produce one to two lesser done productions a season such as The Two Noble KinsmenCardenio and Henry VIII. Based in Jersey City, NJ, they also tour as part of their summer season to other New Jersey locations such as Fort LeeHackensackKenilworthHobokenWest Milford and also to Stratford, CT[7]

Kansas City

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival was founded by Tony winning Broadway producer Marilyn Strauss in 1993 at the urging of Joe Papp[8] with a production of The Tempestin Southmoreland Park. In 1998, they began to produce two productions per year, with a total of 23 production at the start of the 2011 season.[9]


Kentucky Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit, professional theatre company in Louisville, Kentucky that produces and performs the works of William Shakespeare. The main productions offered are the annual summer series of plays presented free to the public at Central Park. This series, commonly called “Shakespeare in Central Park”, sprung from an initial production in the park by The Carriage House Players in the summer of 1960. They also perform shows in other venues, as well as conduct educational programs related to acting and other theater-related skills.

New York City

The original Shakespeare in the Park was founded in 1954 by Joseph Papp as the New York Shakespeare Festival, which eventually led to free public performances in Central Park.[3] Since 1961 an outdoor amphitheatre, the Delacorte Theatre, has accommodated these productions. Many celebrity actors have worked the Delacorte.[10] People often line up in the morning to assure tickets for the evening performance.[11] Many seasons have featured works by other playwrights, including Bertolt Brecht and Samuel Beckett.[12]



Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet production in Clark Park

This Philadelphia theater company offers the largest, free outdoor production of Shakespeare’s plays in the greater Philadelphia area. Shakespeare in Clark Park was formed in the fall of 2005 by Marla Burkholder, Maria Möller, Tom Reing and Whitney Estrin. In their inaugural season, Shakespeare in Clark Park presented four performances of Twelfth Night, drawing an audience of over 2,000 people. Those audiences have grown to over 5,000 and the annual show has become a staple of summer in Philly.[15]


Jennifer Tober founded Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks in 2005. Their performances are free and utilize various public parks in the Pittsburgh area.[16][17]


The Rochester Community Players have staged free Shakespeare productions at the Highland Bowl in Highland Park each July since 1997.

San Francisco

Free Shakespeare in the Park began in San Francisco in 1983, with its debut production of The Tempest in Golden Gate Park. Produced every year in San Francisco, PleasantonCupertino, and Redwood City from July through September, this program stages professional theater free of charge throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.[18]

San Pedro

Shakespeare by the Sea was launched in 1998 by Producing Artistic Director Lisa Coffi. It presents free Shakespeare productions in San Pedro, Los Angeles and throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties.[19]


Since 1989, GreenStage has been producing free Shakespeare in major parks in and around Seattle. In 2014, they completed the entire Shakespeare canon.[20]

In 1994, a theater company called the Wooden O started annual summer Shakespeare performances at the Luther Burbank Amphitheater on Mercer Island, Washington. In later years park venues including Lynnwood, Washington and Auburn, Washington were added. In the spring of 2008 the Seattle Shakespeare Company merged with Wooden O and continues to present free Shakespeare productions throughout the Puget Sound region.[21]

South Dakota

The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) was formed in 2011 and launched its inaugural season in Vermillion, South Dakota, in June 2012. Since the summer of 2012 the SDSF has been offering fully produced professional Shakespeare performances in Vermillion’s Prentis Park and daytime arts educational offerings for youth and adults. |


Michael J. Trout and Richard G. Fallon Founded the Southern Shakespeare Festival and Renaissance Fair in 1996. It is held in Tallahassee, Florida‘s Kleman Plaza Tallahassee before it became the location of a parking garage. Currently, being organized for re-launch.

Canada, our dear neighbor to the north, has quite a few SITP productions.   (Love those Canadians…)

Austrailia and New Zealand, too!


I had no idea there was so much Shakespeare being produced, but I guess it’s stands to reason considering how much we all love Shakespeare.  

Have you attended a Shakespeare in the Park performance? I bet you liked it.  I’d love to hear about it.

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Who on earth created the first Fringe Festival?

Who On Earth Created the First Fringe Festival?

Who on earth created the first fringe festival?

It’s an interesting question.

Last year my husband and I took the trip of a lifetime to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.  One of our last stops was Edinburg, Scotland.

Here is a photo of the Edinburg castle.


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(While we toured the castle, I had an encounter with a ghost in one of the jails cells, but that’s a post for another day….)

The popular Edinburg Fringe Festival was running, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to attend.  I would have liked that.  Had I know then what I know now about fringe festivals, I would have made it a point to attend some part of it.

So, I promised I would speak about the history of the Edinburg Fringe Festival.

The History of Edinburg Fringe Festival

“In 1947, eight theatre companies showed up at the Edinburgh International Festival, hoping to gain recognition from the mass gathering at the festival. In 1948, Robert Kemp, a Scottish journalist and playwright, described the situation, “Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before … I am afraid some of us are not going to be at home during the evenings!”.[2] Edinburgh Festival Fringe was founded in 1947.”

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According to the United States of Fringe Festivals:

  • “Focused on the performing arts: At its core, Fringe gives a spotlight to theater, dance, puppetry, music, visual arts, and spoken word. Fringes don’t have a focus on one single discipline or genre, but are a performing-arts smörgåsbord
  • Uncensored: From family friendly to bawdy and burlesque, Fringes do not curate or constrain the material or content used in participating show.
  • Easy to participate in: Ticket prices are purposely low for audiences and production fees are low for artists. We strive to make the arts available to everyone. Show selection varies from festival to festival but is generally quite open to participation by the gamut of amateurs to professionals
  • Festivals: Fringes around the world vary. They last from just a few days to a few weeks and involve lots of people at multiple venues.
  • Original: Fringes feature a wide array of original material—sometimes by design, but usually because that’s what Fringes do naturally well.
  • Rapid-fire: Typically, tech is minimal and time is a factor at our festivals. Shows are often kept brief (Fringes most frequently have shows right around 60 minutes in length) and technical requirements kept simple (minor sets, streamlined cues, nothing elaborate)

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In the U.S., no one organization or individual owns, controls or regulates the name “Fringe”. There are no national rules for how each individual festivals operate; festival content, finances, and structure vary from city to city. Generally, all festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes work hard to keep production fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals.”

Doesn’t that sound like fun?  People doing theatre just because they want to.  People being creative and imaginative with other people doing the same thing.

I think you’d like to attend one.  I have several former students who participate in them each year and they enjoy the freedom of creativity they feel.

Here is a life of a few places in the United States where fringe festival occur:

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 Check them out.  Maybe I can catch the one in Kansas City. I’m so excited!
Have you attended a fringe festival performance?  I’d love to hear from you about your perspective?
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Happy Mothers Day, the Sad and Happy Parts







Happy Mothers Day, the Sad and Happy Parts

May is Mother’s day month!

I wish I remembered this day.

I wish we could remember our lives from birth. It might help us understand some aspects  of ourselves we have overlooked.

My mother became ill and diagnosed with heart disease when I was ten years old. Although she lived a very long life, my brother shared she was never quite the same after her illness.

Here are a few things Mom taught me:

To delegate

To make caramels

To sew

To travel

To attend concerts and plays

To swim

To make a pie crust

To help people less fortunate

To love reading

To hostess a party

To love the out of doors

To appreciate the Arts

To welcome newcomers

To have manners

I have her green thumb and color sense. I can grow just about any plant with very little effort. I have a knack with color with practically a photographic memory of colors.

To some extent, I inherited my singing voice from Mom. When she was around eleven years old, she was asked to sing Japan’s national anthem for the Emperor of Japan for some public gathering. I guess she forgot the words.

She never forgot that or forgave herself.  What a pity.  At the time, no one knew that was too much pressure to place on a young person. Whenever I see a child singing the Star Spangled Banner at a sporting event, I think of Mom.

Mom wasn’t always the nicest person. She could be mean and spiteful. Then, no one knew about the benefits of anti-depressants or seeking counseling. Both were taboo.

If they had, I think a lot of Mom’s emotional and self esteem issues could have been helped. She had a tendency to pit her kids against one another which only pushed us to be more competitive with one another.

To this day, my brother and my sister and I are splintered with many deep seeded hurts. We can’t seem to get past them. Maybe she didn’t mean to do this to us, but it’s a common complain’t among us.

The good thing is I have broken that pattern with my own daughters and step son and they are all the best of friends with each other.

I hoped I’d  have a chance to speak to Mom about myself and what I’ve learned about life. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to do so.

I’m a very driven person who needs a constant creative challenge set before me. Mom didn’t understand that about me. In fact, I think it intimidated her. I know she compared her stay-at-home life with my sister and I and our working mother lives.  She appeared regretful about her decisions, but aren’t we all at times?

I’m sorry to say she could never teach me to knit. Lord, I’m terrible at it!








 Or sculpt! She was quite good. I inherited her hand sculpture which has no wire armature within it. It is perfectly balanced. We have moved twice in the last eight years and one of the first things I think of is Mom’s hand and whether it made through another move. It sits in my office and I love it.





I love fine china and art. I don’t especially like drinking hot tea, but I love to collect tea pots. That’s Mom’s influence. She prided herself on her English ancestry, drinking strong tea.

I don’t have enough walls for all of the art work I  inherited from her nor for my own collection. That’s her influence. “One can never have too much art,” and “Think of art as furniture” she’d say.

While on one our trips, one really funny thing Mom would do is collect rocks for her garden. I sat in the middle of the front seat of our red truck when we traveled.

Whenever we stopped for a break, Mom would go rock hunting. She’d put a newly discovered rock in the truck gleeful at her discovery. Whenever she wasn’t looking, Dad would have me sneak another “precious” one to him and he’d drop it out!

It was this crazy rock tennis match I still laugh about from time to time.

She never bought decent snacks for us, either. As a young girl, I would arrive home and hungrily search the kitchen for anything to eat. Usually, there was some old gross shrunken up apple in the fridge or maybe a piece of moldy cheese.

One time, I found the baking chocolate and took a hunk  thinking it was the sweetened kind. One bite and well, I’ve never recovered.

My mother was quite a character. She could be very kind and generous and on a good day, silly and funny.

I try to remember those times on Mothers Day. It only seems fair, respectful and appropriate. It’s the least I can do. You know?

Happy Mothers Day Mommas

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Full Circle Moments

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments–Part One


I am excited!  This weekend I’m going to enjoy a full circle moment. I should call it a full circle moments, because I’ have experienced several in my life. 

Have you ever experienced one?  You know, a “pay it forward” kind  of thing? They’re deeply fulfilling.

As a teacher and director, I’ve had many.  It seems to go with the territory. I would imagine everyone experiences full circle moments several times in their lifetime. If they are happy ones, we are joyful. If they are sad, I’m not certain we recognize them as full circle moments, but some sort of lesson we still need to learn.

Has anyone advised you how to handle them? Me neither.

No one tells you the brevity of them– they are magical and surprising.

Full circle moments, in general, are random.

An example:  My Ukrainian pen pal ended up on a  train  in Romania with a professor from my small midwestern hometown who knew my family.  That’s one chance in at least a million chances of occurring.

Another:  My daughter grows up to perform in a show with one of her babysitters who grew up and became an actress at my encouraging. They perform together in a different city one hundred miles away. Ten years later.

You have to admit full circle moments make you take a pause. Sometimes they are baffling. You are afraid to share them with anyone for fear they’ll think you are crazy–you are fantasizing and dillusional.

We can’t prophesy when full circle moments will occur or even if we’ll have one. That’s what makes them special.


This particular full circle moment began very innocently.

Forty years ago next month, in 1977 I  student taught drama at West Junior High School in Columbia, MO. Some of the students were the best students I’ve taught, even if I was still in the learning phase of my career.  I am still friends with many of them today.

A young man, Randall Kenneth Jones, is a student of mine during that semester.  He is smart, witty and clever.

In 1978, we work together in an outdoor community theater.  Randy performs Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress while I serve as the stage properties mistress.  We perform as brother and sister in 110 in the Shade.  He is in the chorus while I portray Mrs. Bumble in Oliver!

Two years later, my former husband and I create a community theater– Columbia Entertainment Company.  Randy performs in several of the shows–Two by Two and Damn Yankees.  I perform with him in Damn Yankees.

Get this: My cooperating teacher when I student taught, Jackie Petit White, performs in the production as well!

Randy attends the University of Missouri-Columbia in journalism.  Afgter graduating, he moves to Washington, DC. He works in marketing, advertising and public relations with a focus on creative development. He develops a terrific resume which includes PR and marketing for Walgreens, JCPenney, The Washingon Post and more.

I stay in Missouri, divorce, remarry, have children, preside over CEC for several years, run a theatre school, teach drama to middle schoolers and create several youth theater programs.  I direct several hundreds plays and musicals with adults and children alike. My resume is different from Randy’s, but equally successful.

In essence, we are equally busy.

Bumbling Bea

Time passes….

Thirty-nine years later in 2016, we meet again. I read on Facebook Randy has authored a really cool book, Show Me.  Show Me is filled with over one hundred interviews Randy collected with very successful people–Pat Benatar, Barbara Cochran, Jent Evanovich, Tyler Mathiesen, Suze Orman, just to name a few.

He’s about to release Show Me.  I write him, congratulating him.  We rekindle our friendship.  We promise to do a better job of keeping up with each other.

It’s fun to know again this great student, now a grown man. He’s just as witty, clever and smart.

Now the full circle moment–

Two months go by and Randy contacts me.  He’s traveling to  Columbia to do a fundraiser for CEC which was built twenty-nine years ago. (Isn’t that crazy?) For the fundraiser,  he’ll be performing a stand up routine, selling and autographing his book, too.

His routine includes memories of the teachers who inspired him, one of which was my cooperating teacher, Jackie Petit White.   He wants to speak about me as well, because I was very instrumental in keeping the community theatre afloat for years.

Would I be interested in participating as well?

Heck, yes!

I’m not taking center stage.  This event isn’t about me, but I will benefit from it.  I’ll be signing and selling Bumbling Bea (2.0) books before and after the show.

A portion of the proceeds go to Columbia Entertainment Company.  Tickets may be reserved in advance at

In some respects, full circle moments are snippets of time in our lives. 

They prove, “I am here on earth.  I matter.  I helped someone to find themselves.”  My inner self and actual self meet in congruence. Wow!

We have amazing lives whether we notice them occurring or not. Could I have foreseen this upcoming moment? Never.

What full circle moments have you experienced?

Read part two of this full circle moment here:

Randy and I would love to see you and say hello.  You’ll find our books on

See you soon!

full circle moments

I’d love to hear about your full circle moments.  Contact me at or my website at

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Five Happy Stories of Childhood

Five Happy Stories of Childhood for National Tell a Story Day


I have five happy stories of childhood for National Tell a Story Day.

I’ve always been a story teller.  I think I come by it naturally.  Do you?

April 27 is National Tell a Story Day.  I didn’t know there was a day set aside for this prior to writing this post.  I’m glad the art of art of storytelling  is acknowledged.  It’s a day when people are encouraged to get together and tell stories to one another.

The origin of theatre can be traced back to the cave dwellers.  Caves in Africa, France and Spain demonstrate a close connection of storytelling with present day theatre.  If a cave dweller came home from a day of hunting, we know at some point someone drew pictures on the walls of the cave.  They appear to tell a story.

Don’t we all tell each other stories daily?  I know I do.

I’d prefer to tell a story to my husband when I’m explaining about something that occurred during my day.  Sometimes it’s a short one–“There was a huge line at the grocery store and only two cashiers” or “Did you hear what Senator So and So said today?”

The story gets the ball rolling, that’s for sure.

Do you have family members who can entertain your for hours with family stories?  I have heard the same stories so many times, I have them memorized and can chime in on the punch lines.  I’m never bored by them.  Sometimes the stories are all I have left of that person. The stories bring them back to life if only momentarily.

My father was quite a character– a doctor, smart and intense.  His intelligence outweighed his emotions, though.  He could get scary mad, but he also had a playful side which I adored.

Five Stories of Childhood

1.  Once in the coldest part of winter, my father drove my mother’s new car (a Nash) on an iced over river, so my brothers and sisters could play Crack the Whip with a rope tow behind the car.  Unfortunately, the ice broke beneath the car sinking it during the festivities pulling my siblings along with it.  I remember my mother and I  being called to rescue them in Dad’s old truck. Mom’s car was never the same. In the winter when you sat on the car seats, they crinkled with ice crystals within them.

five happy stories of childhood for national Tell a Story Day

2.  When I was in 8th grade, my father took me fishing at Bennett Springs, Missouri on opening day of spring fishing season.  He asked me to get his tackle box for him seconds before the horn sounded signaling fishing could commence. I was careless and didn’t put the tackle box back on the rocky enbankment as I was told to do. It slid down the rocks which threw out its contents bobbing along through everyone’s fishing line.  Oops.

3. Another time, my father thought it would be fun to fly (we had a small airplane) to an airport closeby and have lunch after church.  Dad was so excited by his idea, he failed to consider the huge rainstorm the evening before hand.  We landed on what was supposed to be a dirt airstrip. Instead we became terribly stuck in a quagmire of mud and two hours from home with no transportation or rain boots.  It was a long day.

five happy stories of childhood for national Tell a Story Day

4.  It was a scorching hot day.  I never do well with heat.  While camping, my dad ordered me to get out and scout ahead for a particular campsite where were planned to park our thirty-five foot Airstream.  Again, I was kinda attitude filled (ninth grade) and hadn’t wanted to walk ahead of the rig in the oppressive heat.  Indignantly, I radioed him everything was fine. I didn’t see the two parallel trees on either side of the narrow road.  Trusting my asssessment, my father drove forward  and wedged the rig between the trees putting us in everyone’s way for at least an hour. To make matters worse, it was a brand new Airstream with all the horns and whistles.

five happy stories of childhood for national Tell a Story day
Kites flying

5.  My dad and I were avid kite flyers.  Once, he surprised me with a special kite.  It was pretty cool at the time. (Although now I have my eye on a dragon kite.) It was a beauty. The shiny red, black, yellow, pink and orange silk could be seen from blocks away.

On a trip to S. Dakota to see our friends, we attempted to fly the kite from the bluff behind their home.  It flew  with such ease and grace.  Everything was going fantastic, until the kite string snapped. Our beautiful kite fell from the sky toppling over itself like a broken winged bird.  We frantically dashed down the bluff to the kite laying helpless about four blocks away from us. Luckily, we were able to rescue it from a farmer’s field right before he fertilized the row.

Now the kite hangs on my office wall safe and sound along with Dad’s University of Kansas school of medicine diploma.

Ah, those were the days…..

If Dad was alive today, I’d call him and ask him to tell me a story in honor of national Tell a Story Day.

He’d chuckle and gladly weave a tale.

Five happy stories of childhood for national Tell a Story Day











So there you have it:  my five stories of childhood for national Tell a Story day. I hope you enjoyed them.

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