Our phones will be down from 10-2 today as we transition to our new space.  Should you have an immediate need, please send an email to contact@tnshakespeare.org, and we will get back with you as soon as possible.  Thank you for your patience.

Fifteen Frequently-Asked Questions About TSC's Education Program Civic Funding Loss and the Termination of its Office Lease by the City of Germantown

In June, the City of Germantown's Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted not to fund Tennessee Shakespeare Company's thriving education program for what would have been its sixth year. In September, the City served notice to TSC that its office lease would not be renewed on June 30, 2013, and that the company had until then to vacate its City-owned train depot, which TSC has used as its administrative office for over five years.

Many questions have been asked of TSC's Board of Directors and staff over the past several weeks regarding the City's recent actions. We thought it would be helpful to collect the 15 most frequently asked questions and share TSC's responses with you.

"Why is the City of Germantown removing Tennessee Shakespeare Company from the train depot office?"

TSC's depot lease with the City ends on June 30, 2014, and the City has let us know far in advance that they will not renew the lease.

"Has the City said why it won't renew the lease?"

The City says it wants to return the depot to its former use as a train museum. However, the depot currently is a train museum filled with the same items that were in it when TSC moved into the depot in 2008. TSC's contract with the City stipulates that TSC should continue to operate the depot as a museum and provide touring docent service, which TSC has provided 5-7 days per week, from 9am-5pm, at considerable cost.

"Who was operating the depot before TSC moved in?"

It was vacant and locked.

"What is the City's strategic plan to staff the building and sustain the upgrades as TSC has done?"

An Alderman confirms for TSC that there is no plan in place currently, nor has there been during the last five years.

"This doesn't make sense. Is there another reason the City would end its lease with TSC?"

Multiple Aldermen have stated that the City's ending of the lease is a political consequence for TSC (and its supporters) speaking out publicly about the potential loss of education funding from the City and for TSC responding to media requests for information in the wake of the City's unanimous decision not to fund TSC for FY14.

"That sounds like an infringement of our right to free speech. Is it?"

TSC strongly believes that elected officials in a democratic society should welcome free and open debate without the threat of negative financial or political consequences.

"What are you going to do about it?"

TSC will continue to support classical education programming in our community and continue to be transparent in our call for support and open debate. A function of theatre is to ensure free speech, support multiple views, and to speak truth to power with respect. We are emboldened to continue our work in the classrooms and on the stage.

"The Germantown Mayor was quoted in The Commercial Appeal several weeks ago as saying she was unsure on which municipalities' students the civic funds were being spent. That sounded like she was calling your spending criteria into question. Is that how you took it?"

We did. The quote was baseless. For five consecutive years, the City funded TSC's education programs. Part of the criteria for continued funding was the submission of quarterly and annual reports. All of these reports were submitted by TSC and accepted by the City, and each reflected a growing program for Germantown students that exceeded its programmatic goals for which civic funding was made available.

"Did you see any of this coming?"

We were informed in April of this year that the City administration would recommend zero education funding to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to pass. But before this, TSC invested substantial funds and the City invested over $53,000 in collaborative designwork on an outdoor amphitheatre in Germantown. We worked on that for over three years, but the City eventually decided that the project was not "green" enough. There is now a large telecommunications tower on the site, near Morgan Woods Park.

"Don't the Mayor and the Aldermen want to create their own education system in Germantown that will ensure quality education, beginning next year?"

Yes, as do the citizens. That vote passed.

"Since Germantown is unique, in part, because of its professional and educational cultural arts programming, wouldn't they want professional Shakespeare on its stages and in its classrooms to help drive enrollment?"

TSC will remain open to future conversations with the municipal school system administration, and we will remain hopeful of a partnership that will continue to enhance our students' education and our citizens' cultural lives. We believe there is extraordinary opportunity for our arts organizations to collaborate on an initial municipal schools' arts curriculum that would earn national attention for replication.

"The City made substantial civic funds available to TSC. Cuts needed to be made. That's a fact of life. What did the City get as a return on its investment?"

More than $2 million in economic impact, according to an "Economic Development Report" created by David Ciscel of Christian Brothers University. More importantly, TSC helped positively develop our community's young people through Shakespeare.

"You performed a benefit in September to help restore education funding. How did that go?"

Very well. We greatly modified our performance season to make that happen, with many people contributing their talents to raise $10,000 toward modified education restoration. This means we will be able to say "yes" when Germantown children, parents, or teachers call us and want us in their classrooms or want to attend special morning matinees at a steep discount. However, we have had to eliminate all long-term residencies, prelude scenes, curriculum-building, and the Romeo and Juliet Project due to the funding loss.

"Didn't you receive a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the Romeo and Juliet Project?"

We did, we are proud to say. TSC was one of only 40 regional theatres in the United States to receive the Shakespeare in American Communities grant, and we were also the youngest. The grant is for $25,000, which our supporters quickly matched, to take the Project, which was piloted in Germantown two years ago, into Memphis schools. The NEA funds may not be used to replace lost City of Germantown civic funds.

"Where are you going to go now? I want you to stay."

Thank you. We have received hundreds of supportive letters and calls asking us to stay in Germantown or nearby. Too many of our patrons, supporters, Board members, students, and volunteers are citizens of Germantown. TSC respects their voices and desires, and we will continue to make every effort to serve our community. We are in the midst of making multiple site visits, and we look forward to providing you with an update on the search soon.

It is important to note that TSC remains deeply grateful to those Aldermen and officials who helped establish a professional, classical theatre company in Germantown beginning in 2006. TSC would not be of service to others were it not for the City's collaboration and support. It has been an investment on which TSC promised it would provide substantial return – and has. Even this year, the City is making nearly $13,000 of in-kind services available to TSC to perform at the City-owned Germantown Performing Arts Center. And though this figure is not the $30,000 that several elected officials described to our supporters in return emails in May and June, still it is meaningful and does not go unacknowledged. This five-year investment warrants long-term care and cultivation, and we are hopeful that the City's Board of Mayor and Aldermen will acknowledge that in the future. The benefits to our City are clear, as are the voices of the citizens.

As Sicinius, a Roman representative of the middle-class citizenry, says in a public forum in William Shakespeare's political tragedy, Coriolanus:

"What is the City but the People?!"

News

  • New Permanent Year-Round Home for TSC
  • New Germantown Municipal School District Partnership
  • New Company d and Memphis VA Partnerships
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Our 10th Anniversary Gala

We have Purchased the Former Ballet Memphis Property to Create the State’s First Permanent, Year-Round Home for Professional Shakespeare Performance, Education, and Training in Memphis

pic newhome tsc2017(August 31) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company today announced it has purchased the former facility and property of Ballet Memphis located at 7950 Trinity Road in Memphis as its first, permanent home. 

The announcement was made by Dan McCleary, the company’s founder and Producing Artistic Director; Owen B. Tabor, the company’s Board President for the past six years; and E. Frank Bluestein, the company’s founding Executive Director.

With this acquisition, Tennessee Shakespeare Company is preparing to create the first and only permanent, year-round home for professional Shakespeare performance, education, and training in the state of Tennessee.

TSC purchased the 18,484 square foot facility outright from Ballet Memphis for $1,900,000.  There is no mortgage. 

TSC, now beginning its tenth anniversary season, expects to begin interior renovation this year and be completed in Spring 2018.

The renovation will focus on modifying existing dance studios into a state-of-the-art, professional, flexible theatre for seating up to 200 patrons, as well as a spacious Education Wing.  The public lobby, restrooms, and support areas for the theatre also will be modified.

Centrally located to all of Shelby County just north of Walnut Grove Road, between Germantown Road and the northeast corner of Shelby Farms Park, the unique glass-and-steel facility will house all of TSC’s operations under one roof:  performances, training, education, administrative offices, storage, costume shop, scene shop, and commercial kitchen.  The facility was constructed in 1998, and an addition was built in 2012.  It affords parking for nearly 70 cars.

TSC and Ballet Memphis, longtime arts colleagues whose artistic staffs have collaborated over the years, entered into a Purchase & Sale Agreement in late June.  The sale represents one Memphis not-for-profit arts organization selling to another for re-use of a special purpose building.  TSC’s agent was W. Cary Whitehead III of Boyle Investment Company.

For the last nine years, TSC has created site-specific/environmental Shakespeare and classical productions, both indoors and outside, throughout Shelby County, partnering with long-time friends Dixon Gallery & Gardens, the University of Memphis, St. George’s Church, Shelby Farms Park, Germantown City Hall, Poplar Pike Playhouse, Hutchison School, and Germantown Performing Arts Center.

“This is an important moment in Memphis performing arts,” said Dr. Tabor.  “We have researched more than 50 sites in the last few years, and the former Ballet property is perfect for our needs and for what our audiences say they would like.  The Ballet’s new home in Overton Square is so impressive, and they have been wonderful to work with during this transaction.  We wish them tremendous success.  We appreciate that this special building is the launch pad for exciting futures for two important arts groups in Memphis.

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Announcing a New, Multi-Year Partnership with the Germantown Municipal School District for Cutting-Edge Classical Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students

pic germantown partnership1Tennessee Shakespeare Company and the Germantown Municipal School District today announced a unique, multi-year education partnership that will bring immersive, cutting-edge Shakespeare curriculum to life for every student in grades five, seven, and nine.

Starting with this school year, all GMSD fifth and seventh grade students will participate in an introductory, immersive playshop to prepare and excite them for experiencing a full, live performance of TSC’s self-created production of Shakes, Rattle, and Roll.  The show pays tribute to our hometown heritage, creatively linking the signature music of Memphis to the works of Shakespeare that could have inspired them.

All ninth grade students will be treated to TSC’s nationally-acclaimed Romeo and Juliet Project, a four-part interactive residency that concludes with an intimate and riveting live performance of Romeo and Juliet.

The Project, originally launched at Germantown High School seven years ago and now operating in many Shelby County Schools, transforms classrooms into playing spaces to change students' expectations and reception of the material. The residency begins with three sessions that engage the students in playing three different parts of the play.  The positive impact on the students’ grades, compassion level, engagement in continued exploration of classical texts, and their rehearsed ability to walk away from potentially life-threatening situations in their own lives has proven quantifiable and remarkable in the scores of schools in which TSC has taught over the past eight years. 

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New, Exciting TSC Partnerships with Company d and the Memphis VA, and Expanding Programs with Jail East and Hope Academy

“TSC gives them models to express their feelings, which they probably have never done.  For maybe the first time in their lives, they think about the world around them and their role in the community.”

- Joyce Anderson, Juvenile Manager, Shelby County Sheriff's Office

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Hope Academy residency participants

We are thrilled to announce new partnerships between TSC and Company d and the Memphis Veterans Administration Medical Association.  Also this month (August), we are happily expanding our Shakespeare programs for adjudicated youth at both Jail East and Hope Academy.

TSC is spending August in residence with Company d.  Nationally recognized, Company d is a dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters.  Founded in 2001, Company d is committed to inspire, empower, and teach individuals with Down syndrome who have an inherent aptitude for the performing arts.

TSC Education Manager Carmen-maria Mandley and TSC Education artists guide participants through the tumultuous world of Romeo and Juliet.  Using movement and text, the dancers are immersed in Shakespeare's images and encouraged to discover their personal connection with the characters of the play.

"Company d dancers are having a dynamic experience with TSC this week,” says Winters, Company d founder and Artistic Director.  “The play and its language are being brought to life with interactive methods.  The partnership with Tennessee Shakespeare Company is the first partnership with a theatre company in this region.  I am so excited about this new and unique experience for individuals with Down syndrome, which will enrich artistic growth and expand cultural literacy skills."

Also in August, TSC begins working with veterans at the Memphis VA Medical Association. This program brings together service veterans with theatre practitioners to use the plays of Shakespeare in addressing combat-related traumatic and re-integration issues. The model, created by the Feast of Crispian Project in Milwaukee, WI, was created to strengthen the personal psychological resources available to service veterans - especially those with post-deployment health issues - through the practice and skills of theatre combined with the timeless themes and imagistic language of Shakespeare.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company
presents its first Mainstage production of madcap
The Comedy of Errors

in partnership with the University of Memphis’
Department of Theatre & Dance
June 8-18

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Joey Shaw (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Blake Currie (Dromio of Syracuse).

Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents William Shakespeare’s madcap, joyous The Comedy of Errors on the U of M’s Theatre Mainstage from June 8-18.

Featuring a professional cast of actor-musicians and directed by Shakespeare & Company co-founder Tony Simotes, the production sets Shakespeare’s shortest, wildest play in the exotic and dangerous Greece of 1600.

The story features two sets of identical twins, who, along with their parents, were separated shortly after birth on the high seas.  Now, more than 20 years later, Antipholus (the master) and Dromio (his servant) come to a new land that is hostile to foreigners.  Little do they know, their father, chasing after them, is imprisoned and faces execution at sunset for crossing the border unless he can find someone to pay his bail.  And little do they know, their identical twin brothers live here!  It makes for the funniest, most bizarre day in the country until a final familial revelation changes everyone’s lives forever.

Returning to TSC as the Antipholus twins are Joey Shaw (Romeo; King in All’s Well That Ends Well; Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Colton Swibold (title role in Henry V last year).  Returning as the clowning Dromio servants are Nic Picou and Blake Currie (both from Henry V).

Making her TSC debut as Antipholus’ wife Adrianna is U of M alum Claire Hayner, and returning to play her sister Luciana is Rachel Brun (Juliet; Lady Anne in Richard III; Antonio in Twelfth Night; Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

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Save the Date for Our 10th Anniversary Gala

We are saving a table for YOU to join us for our 10th Anniversary Season Gala!  Mark your calendar now for Saturday, April 7, 2018, when we bring you a celebratory evening of performance and dinner in the beautiful ballroom of the Memphis Hilton.

 pic gala save the date 2018b

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         Tennessee Arts Commission

International Paper             University of Memphis  logo-arts-memphis



     First Tenneessee Foundation    

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Individual Season Sponsors:

Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund; Nancy Copp; Ernest, Pat, Martha, and Marian Kelly; Milton T. Schaeffer; The Family of Owen and Margaret Tabor;
Ann and Wellford Tabor.

Season Partners:

Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Hutchison School, Shelby County Schools, St. George’s Church, 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     Where We Live