How did this get started?
Dan McCleary, one of this country’s most renowned Shakespearian actors and directors, began searching the South a year and a half ago for a city that needed and wanted to support an outdoor Shakespeare Company. After visits to potential locations in several states, he returned to his childhood home of Memphis. His long-time mentor and friend Frank Bluestein convinced him to look at a secluded site in Germantown, a 14-acre wooded parcel in the heart of town, behind Morgan Woods Park on Poplar Pike.
|The September Prelude Event hosted by The Dixon Gallery and Garden: Brittany Morgan and Gabriel Vaughan.|
What are the plans for 2008?
Launch Shakespeare into the woods
McCleary’s proposed site and plan garnered acclaim and an enthusiastic response from city officials. They decided to create a master plan for the area, which prevented the Shakespeare Company from launching on the site in 2008. This is where St. George’s Episcopal Church, Rev. Gary Sturni, and Barbara Apperson stepped in. They offered both the church and grounds along with the Apperson property as a temporary home-away-from-home for
one year to allow for a pilot season and testing of the idea. If all goes well this autumn…. the goal will be to move forward in Year Two with a larger plan and vision.
What is the larger plan and vision?
Magically Elizabethan, revelatory, and fun
An Arts Park. The original hidden parcel behind Morgan Woods allows for multiple access points on foot in a beautiful woodland already laced with trails in which scenes from each of Shakespeare’s plays would erupt, sculpture installations would rotate, children would act out plays they write, music practice sheds would sing out with violins and cellos, dancers would rehearse on an open-air platform, flower gardens would line the paths, and the trees would be lit up at dusk with pastel colors. Nestled within this activity, you would come upon an arbor, through which you would encounter a 600-seat natural outdoor amphitheatre with a 200’ x 200’ playing area for a performance that night of Macbeth played in 360 degrees. Horses ride in from stage-left, Macbeth murders the King stage-right, and Macduff’s avenging English troops arm far upstage under the sweet gum trees for their full-out assault on the Scottish Thane!