Our Past Productions

“Requiem Birthsong for William Shakespeare”

on the occasion of the 400th Anniversary of his passing

by Dan McCleary

(from Dan’s speech at this month’s TSC Gala)

“We see ourselves in the boy fishing for the first time.

In the woman much older now in her wheelchair.

We quietly revel in taking a moment to guide a young person we don’t know.

We all want to pass ourselves on.

We want to see ourselves in our leaders.

We want to see our values expressed in our city.

We need another person to reflect us.

But we also require the problem, the defeat, the death to take our focus from ourselves to others.

The plays of William Shakespeare are still produced more today, still read more today, than any other play. What he writes is intimate to him and personally developed. His craft, though, is in placing his focus on the self WITHIN his community, the religions that surround him, the political debates, the woods, the court, his country’s history, the world’s future, the cosmos.

As Shakespeare did 400 years ago this month, we will all die from this earth. We can have solace in this shared experience. These bodies, fellow travelers, will go. Ours are small material on a small planet in a galaxy of billions of stars among billions of other galaxies. Billions of years old and billions of years to go.

WE are finite.

Is it any wonder, then, that we all share an innate need to know ourselves, to know we must have an impact on the world and those around us and those to come. Of course. Of course we want to know how to act. Of course we feel the need to define ourselves, to make our little time on our little street huge and important and meaningful. Of course we need others to know us so we can feel we exist in the middle of the night when the rest of the street sleeps. Of course. So of course we construct theories and miracles and narratives that allow us to comprehend our existence and our passing.

For many of us, Shakespeare provides this narrative, but also the embrace of mystery.

In Shakespeare’s poetic world, the true prophets are often madmen, the blind, the outsiders, the poor, the clowns, the fools. In his world, women and those in the minority not only achieve equality, they often lead the narrative, they forgive the men, they sacrifice. In his world, monsters, fairies, and murderers cry to dream again, cry for forgiveness, cry for humanity. Shakespeare awakens them to their true selves. He appeals to our collective unconscious.

Over four hundred years ago, England turned to William Shakespeare to teach its history and its new language.

Now, you and I turn to Shakespeare to give us language to articulate what might be madness, what might be fantasy, what might possibly be peace. His endurance lies in his multiplicity of ideas and arguments, together with his poetic restraint from imposing his answers on them. The poet in him respects you and me 400 years after his death. You and I turn to Shakespeare in order to recognize the beauty in what is naturally so, to recognize our natural compulsion to human compassion.

You and I speak as we speak, think as we think, love as we love, act as we do (or don’t) in part because of William Shakespeare.

In this moment, we honor his time on Earth.

It is with this passion and spirit that Tennessee Shakespeare Company was born here, and why eight years later we steadily grow, seeking now a permanent home.
William Shakespeare is for everyone.

The End.”

Join Us for our Newest Southern Literary Salon:
Ernest Hemingway in Key West
February 26

pic ernest hemingwayWe return to our popular Southern Literary Salon for a touch of the tropical during our Winter season.

TSC presents Ernest Hemingway in Key West inside and outside at Melia and Drew Murphy’s gracious Germantown home on Friday, February 26 from 6:00-8:00pm.

Sponsored by Tom’s Bar-B-Q, the evening features fun food, conversation, thirty minutes or so of readings from Hemingway’s works, and a bottomless tumbler of one of Hemingway’s favorite boat drinks.  Tickets are $55 and include all of the above while they last.

Curated and read by TSC founder and producing artistic director Dan McCleary, Hemingway in Key West will employ text from among Hemingway’s Key-inspired works, including A Farewell to Arms, To Have and Have Not, Death in the Afternoon, Winner Take Nothing short stories, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and the posthumously published Islands in the Stream.

“When Hemingway and second wife Pauline Pfeiffer of Piggott, Arkansas, moved to Key West in 1928, they were really in the middle of nowhere,” says McCleary.  “Closer to pirates and Cuba than the continental U.S.  In short order then, is second son was born, traumatically, and his father committed suicide.  Shortly thereafter, his masterwork A Farewell to Arms was published, establishing Papa’s literary legacy and inspiring him to use his time in the keys, and on the waters between there and Cuba and Bimini, to experiment with the American literary narrative form that would ultimately lead to his Nobel Prize.”

TSC’s Season Sponsors include 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, and Tennessee Arts Commission.

Box Office Information

General Admission tickets are on sale now, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located within The Shops at Forest Hill at 3092 Village Shops Drive, Germantown, TN 38138 (near Target); by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org (Twitter: @tnshakespeare).

Salon performances are general admission.  Free parking.  No refunds or exchanges.  Credit card charges require a $1 per-ticket fee.  Programs and schedules are subject to change with notice.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Embraces the Miracles of the Season with
All’s Well That Ends Well
at Dixon Gallery & Gardens

November 18, 2015 (Memphis, TN) – – Embracing the joy and mystery of the season, Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s fairy tale staging of William Shakespeare’s heroic comedy All’s Well That Ends Well continues its eighth performance season: Celebration 400.

12.10.15All’s Well That Ends Well will run December 10-20 in Dixon Gallery & Gardens’ Winegardner Auditorium and will honor the company’s founding Board member and namesake of its Education Fund, Mrs. Barbara B. Apperson.

The production is sponsored by Virginia Apperson and Pete Williams III, Chip and Brooke Apperson, John and Lacy Apperson, Margaret and Owen Tabor, Rose M. Johnston, John and Katherine Dobbs, and Independent Bank.

Directed by TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary (most recently at the Dixon: Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, and Hamlet), All’s Well That Ends Well is a seasonal fairy tale of faith, forgiveness, and love in this production that will gravitate toward toward the play’s mysticism.  Young Helena goes on a hero’s quest in search of love; and, armed with the healing power of her deceased father, she conceives of an astonishing plan that breathes life into all around her and wins the heart of the boy.

All’s Well That Ends Well features a professional, Equity ensemble from around the country and Memphis. 

Returning to TSC are Isaac Anderson* (Romeo and Juliet) as Parolles, Brian Sheppard* (Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew) as Lavatch, Stuart Heyman (As You Like It, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew) as LaFew, Joey Shaw* (Romeo and Juliet) as the King, Stephanie Shine* as Countess, and Michael Khanlarian (As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Twelfth Night) as Dumaine I.

New to the company this season are Lydia Barnett-Mulligan* as Helena, Bradley Karel as Bertram, Jeanna Juleson as the Widow, Caitlin McWethy as Diana, and Heather Roberts as Dumaine II.

The design team includes Memphians Rebecca Bailey Klepko (costumes), Brian Ruggaber (scenic and properties), Jeremy Allen Fisher (lighting), and Barry Gilmore (music arranger/live hammered dulcimer and strings).  The stage manager is Melissa A. Nathan*, with assistant Ashley J. Nickas.

Inspired by the artwork of Maxfield Parrish, the production features a neo-classical design found only in the imagination, including flowing costumes of era-less antiquity that combine to create a time of both structured and earthly beauty.

The story launches itself from the recent deaths of two fathers, prompting the King of France to take the only son (Bertram) of one of the fathers as royal ward in his Parisian court.  Six months earlier, the only daughter (Helena) of a famous physician is made ward to Bertram’s mother (the Countess) when her father dies.  The two teenagers, Bertram and Helena, have grown up and lived together, prompting both, though Helena with far greater articulation, to fall in love with each other. 

The King is dying of a fistula, and he has recently waived off all doctors in accepting his death.  Helena, with the Countess’ admittance, flies to the Court to heal the King with her father’s mystical powers.  In so doing, she receives whatever she wishes from the King.  She chooses for a husband Bertram, who is made to marry Helena against his spoken wish.  Angered at being made to marry while a minor and also forced to stay home from the Florentine wars, Bertram and his strutting braggart of a friend Parolles escape to the battlefields and Italian women, leaving behind what would seem on the surface to be an unbreakable riddle for Helena to solve if she ever hopes of gaining him as a husband.

Journeying to Italy by herself and in disguise, employing newfound confederates Diana and her mother there, manipulating a bed trick with Bertram and announcing her own false death, Helena sets the stage for a final act before a confused King that blossoms with rebirth and presages the redemption of Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale.

The nucleus of the story is taken from a nearly 300-year-old Italian book of novellas titled The Decameron by Boccaccio.  He creates a book that treats on multiple aspects of love as written by seven young women and three young men over ten days while in seclusion outside Florence to escape the plague.  Shakespeare, however, invents most of the supporting characters who lend both gravitas and comedy to the main theme, and, in the case of Parolles, a singular sub-plot of shame and redemption.

Read more: TSC Embraces the Miracles of the Season with All’s Well That Ends Well

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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.

Read more: TSC Announces Four New Members to its Board of Directors