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Responses to OTHELLO

From our Student Matinees:

I don’t want my comments to seem hyperbolic—but my students and I feel that this was the richest literary experience we have ever had. Thanks to everyone for making this a wonderful experience for us. Most of my students had never seen a live production of a Shakespearean play. We sat for over two hours, and not a single student wiggled or slept or took their eyes off the actors. They loved the interactive nature of the show. Thanks to the actors for all their hard work and for making Othello come alive right before our very eyes. This was definitely a highlight for the 30 A.P English students’ senior year—mine too!!

- Julia Goodwin, Bartlett HS

My students had an outstanding experience with Othello. I highly recommend Tennessee Shakespeare and it’s educational experiences, and we will participate again. Really, I hate to “gush,” but this was a most positive experience for us. It was orderly and very professional. We will work with Tennessee Shakespeare again!

- Shari Ray, St Mary’s Episcopal School

This is the 2nd time I have taken students to experience the incredible performances of the TN Shakespeare Company.  We saw Julius Caesar last year and the girls were wowed to say the least.  The Othello performance was again an experience for them.  The girls were on the edge of their seats.  I think that I enjoyed watching the students as much as I enjoyed watching the performers.  It is imperative that students are given good 1st experiences with Shakespeare.  So much of the time they are turned off by having to "read only" the plays or they see less than stellar performances.  My girls were entranced and delighted and asking for more.  They want to see Romeo and Juliet under the stars and try a little of their own in next semester's advanced drama class.  Thank you!

- Ann Lane Neal, Director of Theatre Arts, St. Agnes Academy

I truly want to thank the Tennessee Shakespeare Company for a marvelous experience that I will never forget. I had once heard of the Shakespeare piece, Othello, but never had I read it or seen it performed. I have been to many performances in my young lifetime, but I have never been to one that drew me in to the point where I felt that I was actually a part of what was going on, and never have my emotions flared up that high during a performance. Having the actors interact with the audience was also a new element for me, but it was also quite enjoyable. It was positively evident that the actors gave 100% throughout the entire performance. I would most definitely go to see another performance put on by the Tennessee Shakespeare Company.

From the very beginning of the performance, I was on the edge of my seat, anticipating what was to happen next. You can say that this level of excitement was brought on by the fact that I had never seen the play before, but any play, no matter how it was written, can either turn out to be a “snooze fest” or a “holding on to the end of your seat” kind of experience. The determining factor of the kind of experience you will have rests upon the open mind of the audience, and the commitment of the actors. Shakespearian plays are hard to interpret and, in the case of the actors, hard to perform. I feel that these actors did an outstanding job of performing the play to where the audience was able to follow along, while at the same time, not forgetting the play’s origin and losing touch of the original idea created by Shakespeare.

The actor-audience relationship witnessed and experienced throughout the performance was truly the icing on the cake. You typically see performances done in that manner when the audience consists of younger children, not high school students. However in this case, I believe that the actor-audience interaction was more than appropriate. Had this style not been incorporated into the performance, a great deal of the audience would not have been able to grasp the concept of the play, nor have experienced that high level of enjoyment. After the performance was over, the actors and director answered a few of the audience members’ questions. Although this can be done by many of theatre companies, each actor, and the director, had a warm and welcoming vibe to them.

The Tennessee Shakespeare Company did an outstanding job in producing Othello. Forever will I remember and be grateful for my experience. It shall be something that I cherish and take with me for the rest of my life. Overall, I would rate the entire ensemble, from the time I took my seat for the performance, until the time I returned to school, a perfect 10. I don’t believe there could be any performing arts company that could satisfy my love for the arts any better than the Tennessee Shakespeare Company.

- Caitlyn Knot, 11th Grade, Middle College High


Beautifully acted and staged, my thanks to TSC for providing my students with a truly quality opportunity.

- Keith Salter, Collierville HS


First, please let me extend my greatest thanks to your company and cast for the amazing production today.  My class (5th graders between the ages of 9 to 10), my parent chaperones, and I enjoyed every aspect of the performance. Thank you again for one of the best field trip experiences my students have had.

- Christa Fitzgibbon, CLUE Teacher, Willow Oaks Elementary


It was a wonderful production, and my students couldn't stop talking about it on the way to lunch, at lunch, and even on the way back to school. Ah, the beauty and relevance of Shakespeare! Thanks again for the actors who came early to work with my class and for the excellent and affordable production!

Thank you so much for the experience. We loved the play, and many of my students, who had expressed trepidation in understanding Shakespeare, were surprised to find that they not only understood but also enjoyed the play. I can't wait for the next opportunity! Romeo and Juliet in the garden - I'm there!

- Janelle Phipps, Harding Academy


Thank you for another great show. The actors did a marvelous job and we appreciate what TSC adds to our community!

- Barry Gilmore, Hutchison School


You always impress us you’re your professionalism and quality of performance!!!! Please keep inviting us to participate!

- Jenny Hall, Millington CHS


We loved the show and the students who got to come are ready to start reading it in class. It was a great performance!!!

- Ashly Hood, Raleigh Egypt HS


Responses to JULIUS CAESAR

From our Adult Audiences:

“Casts new light on this familiar tale. It is fresh and innovative without being contrived, and those who think they know the play will come away having experienced something compellingly different. First-rate acting, music, and dance combine for a must-see evening of theater.”

- John Reed

“I thoroughly enjoyed the production.  It kept my mind sharp following one person in more than one role, and I enjoyed that.  JULIUS CAESAR is not to be missed.”

- Andrew Pouncey, Assistant City Administrator, City of Germantown

“I was absolutely mesmerized, beginning with the cast introductions that went into a tableau – the technique suggested to me this was not going to be the same old same old.  The all-woman cast and the accompanying revision of text was . . . how might I say…mind-blowing.  Extremely cool and very exciting.  The choreography was a phenomenal addition.  The death scene was a ritual art and not murder.  The acting was superb.  In sum, you now have a loyal follower of Tennessee Shakespeare Company.  Thanks very much for your excellent performance.”

- Robert P. Connolly, PhD, Director, C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa

“This is by far my favorite of your three productions--the environment was perfect and I love it when the cast is always hanging around on stage, switching parts with small costume adjustments.  Of course the cast was amazing and the cellist (Iren Zombor) exquisite.  Congratulations!”

- Jonathan RA Devin, Freelance writer

“A virtually perfect time at the theatre!  The phenomenal cast and director captured every nuance of the language, and the movement stunningly enriched the language and the classic story!  What a treasure to witness an ensemble fulfill all the promise and expectations of a professional performance!”

- Billy Pullen, English Teacher, Germantown High School

"Once again, you and the brilliant people in your company have created pure magic!  JULIUS CAESAR was facinating, thought-provoking, and enlightening, and I'm certain I speak for the entire audience when I say that it was an unforgettable show.  Your company does provides us with so much more than an evening of theatre, because you present Shakespeare's work in a manner that makes us reflect long after the closing curtain has been drawn.  Thank you for adding this treasure to our community!"
- Caroline Sposto


From the Teachers:

“Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s student matinee series is an incredibly enriching experience for students of all ages and disciplines.  TSC’s innovative staging and interpretation reawakens a classical text for a contemporary audience without ever diminishing the importance of the language.  What was planned to be a ten-minute wrap-up session in my classroom following the performance evolved into an hour-long discussion focusing on the play's themes, the various production elements, the director's vision, use of movement and choreography, and so much more.  Each student contributed to this vibrant and thoughtful discussion with such enthusiasm and energy.  It was one of those moments you long for as a teacher:  passionate discussion and debate employing all of the analytical and performance skills we have developed throughout the year.”

    - Scott Duff, Director of Theatre Arts, St. George’s Independent School

“The experience could not have been better, especially being the only girls in an audience full of MUS boys.  The different reaction (boys/girls) was of great interest to me as an educator.  The St. Agnes girls thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wanted to talk immediately about how their attitudes toward these characters changed drastically because their words were spoken by women.  Thank you for the experience.”

- Ann Neal, Director of Theatre Arts, St. Agnes Academy

“The kids had a blast!  They were talking about it today.  They were amazed at how easily they understood Shakespeare's language and how clearly you all portrayed your roles.”

- Joan Laney, English Teacher, Memphis-Central High School

“This was a wonderful production and a great opportunity for the students. Thank you for providing such a wonderful learning experience. All teachers involved enjoyed it as well, and we plan on definitely attending future productions and instilling a love of Shakespeare and interest in drama/acting in even more students.”

    - Chris Hudson, 10th grade English Teacher, Arlington High School 

“One student I spoke to this morning described how much clearer the story was to him now than it was when he read it in class.”

- Ted Horrell, Principal, Millington Central High School

“The students felt a part of the production!”

    - Karen Cooperman, Teacher, Grahmwood Elementary

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___Responses to Previous TSC Productions___

I wish to congratulate the newly formed Tennessee Shakespeare Company for their splendid inaugural season. I teach at Cordova Middle School where I have always included Shakespeare in my Language Arts Classes, bemoaning the absence of live performances to show students. As the new Drama/Creative Writing teacher at my school I found out early about Dan McCleary and his artistic aspirations, and we were one of the first schools to sign up for a field trip. The TSC not only engaged my disparate group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, they enchanted most and enthralled a few, which is saying a lot.

This is the best thing to happen to the local arts scene in recent memory. I will be taking as many kids as I can to this top-notch production company's future efforts.

Thanks to all the sponsors and support groups who made this possible.

Darrell Hugueley
Cordova Middle School


  • TSC Announces Four New Members
  • Eighth Season Announced
  • The Oliver Experiment
  • Midsummer Night
  • Mayor Visits R&J Project in Action

Tennessee Shakespeare Company Announces Four New Members to its Board of Directors

Memphis, TN – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre and education organization, announced the addition of four new members to its Board of Directors, led by President Owen B. Tabor, M.D.

Now in the midst of its eighth season, TSC has expanded the Board to its largest membership.  The Board is made up of 26 members and now six Emeritus members.

New members voted onto the Board beginning FY16 for their first three-year terms are:

Elise L. Jordan, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer with FedEx Express.

Dorothy O. Kirsch, Memphis philanthropist with a long history of supporting the arts and culture in the Mid-South.

Anne Johnson Mead, partner at the law firm of Butler, Sevier, Hinsley & Reid, PLLC, focusing her practice on litigation, collaborative law, and mediation.  Anne is a member of the Tennessee and Memphis Bar Associations, and serves on the Board for the Family Law Section of the Memphis Bar.

Tracy Vezina Patterson, Director of Alumni Relations at Rhodes College.  She is an alumna of Rhodes College and the University of Memphis School of Law.  Tracy is actively involved in several ministries of St. George's Episcopal Church and has served on the Vestry and as Senior Warden.  Past civic involvements include Memphis Civitan and Special Kids and Families.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Announces Eighth Season of Plays and Education Programs:

Celebration 400

(Memphis, TN, September 1, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, today announced its 2015-16 performance season, which commemorates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a celebration of plays, readings, salons, feasts, and extensive programming for children.

TSC continues its cultural/educational partnerships with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance and with Dixon Gallery & Gardens.  Full productions of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well (Dixon) and Henry V (UofM) will feature professional, AEA casts from around the country and Memphis.

The Company also partners with the Memphis Hunt & Polo Club to feature three weeks of feasts and two-hour readings of Shakespeare plays that TSC has not yet produced.  The Southern Literary Salons continue in September with a focus on Harper Lee, and in February spotlighting Ernest Hemingway in Key West.  The Seventh Annual Shakespeare Gala at Germantown Performing Arts Center moves to April to commemorate Celebration 400 during the month of the 400th anniversary.

Running concurrently with the performance season are the expanded offerings of TSC’s Education and Outreach Department.  These include a newly-authored schools show touring the southeastern U.S., student matinees, playshops and residencies, expanded Summer camps, and the recently-trademarked Romeo and Juliet Project™ literacy/non-violence residency.

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Sponsored by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (NYC)

Presents its Third Musical in Development August 15 on the University of Memphis mainstage:

The Oliver Experiment

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical…and you had no clue?

Featuring Broadway’s Brightest Stars

Memphis, TN (July 27, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its third and final developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with The Oliver Experiment by Jeremy Desmon and Jeff Thomson on August 15 at 7:00 pm.

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Midsummer Night

Live music, glow sticks, and power chords!
Featuring Broadway’s Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony

Memphis, TN (June 15, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its second developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with Midsummer Night by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn on June 27 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.

Midsummer Night, directed by Janet Roston, is the second of three developing musicals in TSC’s inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Broadway's Katrina Lenk

 Eric B. Anthony

Broadway's Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony 

Sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City, Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S.  The first musical in Showplace Memphis last month was a very successful reading of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical.  The final musical will be a charming and surprising new piece, The Oliver Experiment (August 15).

TRW has selected the musicals, and the Actors’ Equity casts and directors are coming from all around the country and Memphis.

The cast includes Broadway’s Katrina Lenk (Once; Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark; The Miracle Worker) as Titania and Eric B. Anthony (The Lion King; Hairspray; Mary Poppins) as Puck.

Songwriters Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda join with co-creator/director Janet Roston (Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Rock Opera Company) for this new take on William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The musical is set within a modern-day rock festival.  It’s a rollicking collision of rock music, iambic pentameter, and hipsters – where rock stars Titania and Oberon quarrel, festival assistant Puck creates havoc, and roadie Bottom gets a chance to shine.  

Keyboardist Milburn and electric violinist Vigoda have been singing and writing songs together for over 20 years, first for their band GrooveLily, and more recently for musical theatre and film.  Theatre:  Striking Twelve, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Beautiful Poison, Wheelhouse, Toy Story: The Musical, Long Short Story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, its complete reworking as the rock musical Midsummer Night, and Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.  Film: many songs for Tinker Bell for Disney animated movies.  Additional music is provided by Gene Lewin.   

The Midsummer Night creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading.  Though it will be going through both script and music changes, Midsummer Night will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s mainstage.  No other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of Midsummer Night immediately following its reading.  Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.

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Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. to Visit Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet Project in Action at East High School Monday, March 23

March 17, 2015 – Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. announced today he will observe first-hand Tennessee Shakespeare Company teaching and playing its Romeo and Juliet Project with 100 ninth graders in four simultaneous sessions at East High School on Monday, March 23 at 9:00 am.

“On behalf of TSC and our Board of Directors, I am so proud and honored to have Mayor Wharton joining our teachers in the classroom,” said Project creator and TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine.  “It was at the Mayor’s urging we created this Project, and I am excited for him to see his challenge come to positive life.”

pic-romeo-and-juliet-castTennessee Shakespeare Company began its nationally-recognized, four-part performance and in-school residency in the Memphis area in January.  The Project, now in its fourth year, brings a cast of eight professional actor-teachers into each Language Arts classroom at a participating school.  Students are guided by the actors to live the play’s urgent tragedy of young love amidst rage, experiencing its relevant story while ensuring that participating freshmen have a first exposure to Shakespeare that is active, rich, and rewarding.

As the teenagers in the play face armed violence, students discover positive actions available to them in their own lives in the face of real conflict.  Student post-Project assessments have recorded a 20% increase in students’ compassion as a result of their inclusion in The Romeo and Juliet Project, as well as a full letter grade increase, on average, in Language Arts classes.

The Residency concludes with an intimate performance by the actor-teachers of Romeo and Juliet, which encourages student participation.

By the end of March, The Romeo and Juliet Project will have performed the play 44 times in 27 Memphis area schools, and will have taught the Residency in 342 classroom visits in 11 schools.  At least 4,360 high school Freshmen will be reached and positively affected by The Romeo and Juliet Project.  That figure represents 34% of all freshmen in the Shelby County Schools system.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         logo-arts-memphis

International Paper            University of Memphis


First Tenneessee Foundation


Tennessee Arts Commission

Season Sponsors:
Arts Memphis, Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, Nancy Copp, FedEx Corporation, Independent Bank, International Paper, Rose M. Johnston, Ernest and Pat Kelly, Jr., Milton T. Schaeffer, Margaret and Owen Tabor, Ann and Wellford Tabor, Tennessee Arts Commission, and The University of Memphis.

Season Partners:
Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, and The University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a proud member of:
Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence       ArtsMemphis    logo-gacc          Tennesseans for the Arts     Tennessee Theatre Association