Tennessee Shakespeare Company presents its Vaudevillian The Taming of the Shrew inside Hugo Dixon’s new 1927 home

poster-shrew2014Memphis, TN (March 20, 2014) – – Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, presents William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew inside Dixon Gallery and Garden’s Winegardner Auditorium from April 23 – May 4 in Memphis.

Directed by TSC’s Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Dan McCleary (Hamlet, The Tempest, Glass Menagerie, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It), this roaring ‘20s production is sponsored by Ann and Wellford Tabor.  The exclusive media sponsor is CA Media/gomemphis.com.  Additional funding comes from First Tennessee Foundation’s ArtsFirst.

Likely inspired by the European traveling troupes performing Commedia dell’arte, William Shakespeare composed either or both The Taming of the Shrew and The Taming of a Shrew between 1590-1594.  Commedia was a comedy of broad humors that cast skilled actors and clowns in stock character roles, playing traditional storylines but with improvisations employing daily news and lazzi (gags, bits).

With a familiarity and even popularity today that rivals that of over 400 years ago, Shrew features a famous pair of hard-headed, though soft-hearted, lovers in Kate and Petruchio as they make their way from an impossible first date, through a rushed marriage and famished honeymoon, and finally a rare coming-together that has been staged as many ways as there are productions.

Though the play is the earliest comedy of Shakespeare’s, its structure reflects an innovative synthesis of several traditional motifs and plots that would become signature pleasures in his later writing.  He combines the ubiquitous shrew-taming folklore with the wooing of a young lady by multiple suitors with the gulling of a penniless man into believing he is happily wived and wealthy.

Centered in this craftily constructed comedy is a reformation of the shrew-taming tradition on the stage.  Prior to his writing, the accepted “taming” had been almost entirely physical and quite brutal – a human Punch and Judy show.  And while physical pains are not absent in The Taming of the Shrew, they are shared and even self-inflicted.  There is an immediate depth of feeling and intelligence shared by Kate and Petruchio that serves to identify Shakespeare early in his career as a playwright compelled by human psychology.

“Not unlike Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, also originally defined as a comedy,” says McCleary, “Shrew’s modern controversy surrounding the treatment of women in the play is inevitable.  We could not produce the play unless we embraced the controversy and addressed it.  My experience with the play is that the depth of feeling, even of immediately discovering a soul-mate, as impossible as that may be to consciously understand and accept, lies more at the heart of this play than Petruchio making Kate submissive to him in marriage.

“I think it is a very fine, even modern love story.  Two independent people, with their lives bent in one direction and playing a role that gets each attention, submit to one another through their opposition.”

The TSC production will place the story in 1927 Memphis in the newly-constructed home of Hugo Dixon on Park Avenue.  The play titled The Taming of the Shrew breaks out without planning when, after Mr. Dixon’s singer for the evening passes out drunk and awakes to a conceit of his being married to Mr. Dixon’s maid and owning the estate, a traveling group of vaudevillians show up and put on a play of “mirth and merriment” for Mr. Dixon’s 200 guests.   

“TSC works environmentally all the time, but we have never quite been this site-specific,” says McCleary.  “The Dixon Gallery & Gardens was created out of the generosity of Hugo and Margaret Dixon. They were also great patrons of the arts.  So, we hope we honor their memory by portraying Mr. Dixon on stage in the induction and then drafting him into the play. 

“The year and geography also give us an opportunity to respond to the Jim Crow-law positions of submission for people of color in America, both socially and in the entertainment industry.  What would have been illegal in 1927 will be given opportunities to blossom in this story.”

The company

The Taming of the Shrew features a professional AEA company of 17 actors and musicians from around the country and Memphis.  

The cast introduces MaConnia Chesser as Kate, Paul Kiernan as Petruchio, Lauren Ballard as Bianca, Mark McCarthy as Tranio, Andrew Joseph Perez as Lucentio, Ben Reed as Hortensio, and as servers Jessica Weaver, Isabel Azar, and Peri Beckerman.

Returning to TSC are Brian Sheppard (Hamlet) as Hugo Dixon and Grumio, Cara McHugh (Romeo and Juliet) as Biondella; and Memphis’ Phil Darius Wallace (Hamlet, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It) as Gremio, Stuart Heyman (As You Like It, Othello) as Baptista, Bradly Kroeker (It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play) as Vincentio, Lorraine Cotton (It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play) as Tailer/Haberdasher/Pedant/Widow, and David Rhea (Macbeth) as Curtis.

Playing piano live on stage is local musician and Music Arranger Steven DiBlasi (Hamlet).   Compositions will include those by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Scott Joplin, and Lorenz Hart.

The design team includes Memphian Bruce Bui (costumes), Elliot LaPlante (scenic and properties) with Kristen Greene, Taylor Starr Knight (lighting), and Neil Freeman (First Folio).  Dramaturgy is by Chandra Owenby Hopkins.  Scott Roberson is the Technical Director, and the stage managers are Melissa A. Nathan with Catie Broadwater.


The induction

Hugo Dixon, art collector, arts patron, and generous friend to Memphis, welcomes 200 of his closest friends to the 1927 formal opening of his new home and estate on Park Avenue – the future (and current for 2014) Dixon Gallery & Gardens.  

As guests arrive to passed cocktails and appetizers, they are escorted into Mr. Dixon’s study, which has been fashionably furnished and outfitted with choice collectibles from around the world – portraits, landscapes, statues, glassware, porcelain, piano, musical instruments, weapons.  

Part of the entertainment, prior to dinner, is a singer named Christopher Sly, who, though drinking his way through three shakers of martinis, sings the new standards by Berlin, Rodgers, Hart, and Jolson.  By the time that Sly passes out in front of Hugo’s guests, an itinerant company of vaudeville and stage actors arrive at the side door looking for bed and board for the evening in exchange for any show the proprietor would like.


The sting

A conceit is arranged and acted that awakes Sly, convinces him he has been in a coma for over a decade and is married to Mr. Dixon’s maid and owns Mr. Dixon’s house.  To celebrate the newly-discovered nuptial, Sly and Hugo call for a play of “mirth and merriment” that drafts both Hugo and his maid into the improvised play known as The Taming of the Shrew.  The dinner will wait.

The story of the play within the play

Baptista Minola, a wealthy father of Padua, Italy, would love nothing more than to marry off his two daughters.  The younger Bianca is long on suitors, but the elder Kate, who must be married first before Bianca may, will not be mated.  

From Pisa, enter Lucentio, a handsome student, and his trusty butler, Tranio.  Lucentio immediately falls in love with Bianca and swaps identities with Tranio to gain access to her.  Bianca already has two suitors, but doesn’t like either.  The rich, elderly Gremio hires Lucentio, disguised as a Latin tutor, to woo Bianca on his behalf, while Hortensio disguises himself as a musician to get access to her.

Petruchio of Verona, meanwhile, arrives with his butler Grumio to visit his friend Hortensio and to find a rich wife.  When Hortensio dares him to woo Kate the shrew, Petruchio accepts the challenge and is aided by the Bianca wooers.  Baptista is ecstatic at the prospect of ridding himself of the elder tempest.  

Petruchio and Kate, perhaps despite what the two head-strong lovers feel for one another, fight right through to their wedding day.  At the church, where Kate unwillingly awaits him, Petruchio arrives grotesquely attired, and after an abbreviated ceremony he hastily departs for his country house in Verona with his new wife in tow.  The newlyweds deny themselves food, water, rest, new clothes, and consecration of their marriage until a mutual understanding of their new relationship is reached.  Eventually worn down by her husband’s relentlessness, Kate says she accepts him and what he says.  They set off to visit her father in Padua.

Though Lucentio and Bianca have secretly run off to get married, Baptista is thrilled at his empty nest and holds a wedding banquet for both his daughters.  With Hortensio left to his sour widow of a new wife, Lucentio to his petulant new wife Bianca, and Baptista and Gremio to their money, Petruchio and Kate reveal a final demonstration of their mutual submission to one another – potentially the healthiest marriage left on stage.


Performance Schedule at Dixon Gallery & Gardens

Wednesday, April 23 at 7:00 pm  Preview performance
Thursday, April 24 at 7:00 pm Preview and Free Will Kids’ Night
Friday, April 25 at 7:00 pm  Opening performance and Post-Show Party
Saturday, April 26 at 7:00 pm Performance
Sunday, April 27 at 3:00 pm  Performance
Thursday, May 1 at 7:00 pm Free Will Kids’ Night
Friday, May 2 at 7:00 pm Performance
Saturday, May 3 at 7:00 pm Performance
Sunday, May 4 at 3:00 pm Closing performance


Ticket Information

All performances are general admission; first come/first seated.  Tickets are on sale now.

Tickets for the Wednesday, April 23 and Thursday, April 24 Preview performances are only $15.  All other performances are $30.  

Thursday, April 24 and Thursday, May 1 are Free Will Kids’ Nights: Children 17 years and younger are admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian.  All Dixon members, Seniors, and college students receive a 20% discount with valid I.D.

Purchase tickets in person Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located at 2260 West Street in Germantown, or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org.  The TSC Box Office inside the Dixon will begin selling tickets one hour prior to each performance on-site.  Free parking. No refunds. Cast and schedule are subject to change.


Artist Bios

Isabel Azar (servingperson) has twice performed in Tennessee Shakespeare's Prelude Scenes.  Recently, she appeared as Beth March in Little Women (Desoto Family Theater), Eleanor Crenshaw in Credo House (Christian Brothers High School), Monterone's Daughter in Rigoletto (Opera Memphis), Helsa in The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (Christian Brothers High School), and an ensemble member in Oliver! (Desoto Family Theater).

Lauren Ballard (Bianca) has worked in multiple regional theaters, recently playing Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Nashville Shakespeare Festival and working as a resident company member at American Shakespeare Center.  Other: Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, Olympia in Big Love, and Cinderella in Into the Woods.  Lauren received her MFA from the University of Houston.

Peri Beckerman (servingperson) last performed with TSC in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Mustardseed.  She has acted in several shows in the area, but lately has been spending much of her time studying at Stanford University Online High School, where she is a sophomore.

Bruce Bui (Costume Designer) TSC:  Unto the Breach, Shakes Rattle & Roll, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), It’s a Wonderful Life: a Live Radio Play, Rebel Shakespeare and His Women, and Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits.  Originally from Southern California, Bruce now lives in Memphis and is in his twelfth season as the Wardrobe Director and Resident Costume Designer for Ballet Memphis.  His works can be seen regularly on the Orpheum stage and numerous other venues around the Mid-South.  He has also worked with The Western Stage (Always, Patsy Cline), Cabrillo Musical Theatre (Funny Girl), Santa Susanna Repertory Theatre (Shiloh, War of the World), and Kingsmen Shakespeare Company (As You Like It), among others. 

MaConnia Chesser* (Kate) Regional theatre:  The York Shakespeare Company: Macbeth, Richard II; WSC Avant Bard: Much Ado About Nothing; Totem Pole Playhouse: The Sunshine Boys, 45 Seconds from Broadway, Proposals; The Kennedy Center: Locomotion; Ensemble Studio Theatre: Cell, Palmetto; NJ Repertory (company member): The Rant, And Her Hair Went with Her; Theater Alliance: Insurrection: Holding History (Helen Hayes nomination); African Continuum Theatre: The Story, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Amen Corner; Venus Theatre: Assistant Director for Migdalia Cruz’s Cigarettes and Moby Dick, Feminist Freak Show, Ugly Ducklings, The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women; and work with Folger Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre.  Film and TV: Nothing but the Truth, cigarettes for breakfast, Ghosts of Hamilton Street, Diseasels, The Wire.  Education: National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and Alcorn State University.

Lorraine Cotten (Tailor, Haberdasher, Pedant, Widow) TSC: Lana Sherwood in both productions of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.  Other local theatre: Les Miserables and Left Hand Singing at Playhouse on the Square. Regional theatre: New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Barter Theatre, Arkansas Rep, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, as well as Off-Broadway and in Los Angeles.  Lorraine also directs and teaches, holding an MFA in Theatre from the University of Memphis.

Steven DiBlasi (Pianist, Music Arranger) TSC: Hamlet.  He has performed with student and guest artists at the University of Memphis, been featured as a soloist with the JSU Chamber Winds Ensemble, and premiered new works by students and professors at U of M and Jackson State University.  He teaches Class Piano and Aural Theory at U of M, and privately at St. Mary's Episcopal School.  Steven annually adjudicates for the Memphis City School's All-City Piano Festival.

Neil Freeman (Text Consultant) is a teacher, director, text coach, and actor.  He is the man behind the acclaimed First Folio editions published by Applause and utilized across the globe.  Currently Associate Professor Emeritus (of Theatre) at the University of British Columbia in Canada, he is also a Master Teacher with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, and Text Consultant to several other U.S. and Canadian theatres. His range of teaching, coaching, and directing ranges from the fifteen-year-olds in youth companies to high school teachers, through university level students (undergraduate and graduate in both liberal arts and the top-ranked professional training schools) to professional theatre companies and individual actors.

Kristen Greene (Properties Designer) TSC: Unto the Breach, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Tempest, The Glass Menagerie, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Kristen is currently the stage manager and production coordinator for Ballet Memphis.  She has a BFA in stage management from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and she also studied at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

Stuart Heyman (Baptista)  TSC: As You Like It (Corin) and Othello (Brabantio).  Local theatre:  Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Fagin in Oliver!, Quixote/Cervantes in Man of LaMancha, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, TR in Tintypes, and Malvolio in Twelfth Night.  

Chandra Owenby Hopkins (Dramaturg) is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC.  She regularly directs for Theatre Converse and teaches courses including Dramaturgy, Devised Theatre, and History of Musical Theatre.  She earned her Ph.D. in theatre and performance studies from the University of Kansas and has published reviews and articles in Theatre Survey and Theatre Annual. Her latest writing project is included in the collection, Objects and Things, forthcoming from Palgrave. As a dramaturg, Chandra has worked most recently with Georgia Shakespeare of Atlanta on their 2013 production of Metamorphoses.  

Paul Kiernan* (Petruchio) Regional theatre: Hamlet, 12 Angry Men, Is He Dead, Pride and Prejudice, Our Town, The Tempest at Pioneer Theatre; Freedomland, Skin in Flames, The Beard of Avon, Six years, End Days at Salt Lake Acting Company; Julius Caesar, Henry IV at Salt Lake Shakespeare; Romeo and Juliet at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Company; Cyrano de Bergerac (title role) at Hangar Theatre; Macbeth, As You Like It, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew at St. Louis Shakespeare; The Merry Wives of Windsor, You Can't Take it With You, Amadeus at Great Lakes Shakespeare; Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, As You Like It at Orlando Shakespeare Theater.  Film/TV: HBO series From the Earth to the Moon, Luck of the Irish, Go Figure, The Cell 2.  MFA in Acting from Brandeis University.

Taylor Starr Knight (lighting designer) Design credits include: Godspell, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol, and Little Shop of Horrors. Taylor currently works as the Production Electrician for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and Assistant Lighting Designer for Oklahoma City Ballet. Other companies include: Cirque du Soleil's KA, Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, as well as Spotlight Theatre (Israel). Taylor graduated  from Oklahoma City University with a BFA in Theatre Design and Production, with an emphasis in lighting.

Bradley Kroeker (Vincentio) TSC:  both productions of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Freddie Filmore).  Recent local theatre:  The Hollow and roles in Opera Memphis’s Macbeth and Porgy and Bess.  TV: the guest grill chef on WKNO’s “Local Color.”  Other local theatre: Frederick in A Little Night Music, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, and Guido Cointini in Nine.

Elliot LaPlante (Scenic and Properties Designer) TSC: Romeo and Juliet.  She designed set and properties for the Shakespeare Walla Walla production of Merchant of Venice, the Power House production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play, and properties for the Shakespeare Walla Walla 2012 Summer Festival.  Elliot has created interior designs at the Power House Theatre for The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Four Tenors, The Tempest, Big Daddy’s BBQ, and the 2012 Summer Shakespeare Festival.  She also worked on the production team to produce the opening event for the Power House Theatre: Dangerous Liaisons.  Elliot just finished her BS degrees in Business and Psychology at Walla Walla University, and recently moved to Los Angeles.  She is currently working with The Prison Project at The Actors' Gang Theater under Artistic Director Tim Robbins.

Mark McCarthy* (Tranio) Regional theatre: Hudson Guild, New York: The Whaleship Essex; Nebraska Rep: Mrs. Mannerly, Making God Laugh; Shadowland Theatre: Dangers of Electric Lighting, The Seafarer; Illinois Theatre Center: Moonlight and Magnolias; Mercury Theatre: King o’ the Moon; Denver Center: The Rivals: Portland Center Stage: The Rivals, Macbeth, As You Like It; Notre Dame Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing; Heart of America Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Kansas City Rep: Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, The Imaginary Invalid.  Mark is also a voice-over artist, stage combat choreographer, and published playwright.

Dan McCleary+ (Director; Founder and Producing Artistic Director) is a native Memphian.  Dan directed and acted in TSC’s inaugural production of As You Like It (Jaques) and The Glass Menagerie; and he directed TSC’s Unto the Breach, Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Tempest, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all-female Julius Caesar, Othello, and Themes from a Midsummer Night.  He also has directed critically-acclaimed productions of As You Like It at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, The Servant of Two Masters outdoors in downtown Atlanta and at Seattle Shakespeare Company, and All’s Well That Ends Well at Georgia Shakespeare Festival.  At the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, he has directed the world premiere of The Stone Face and has played the title roles in Antony and Cleopatra and Richard III, Brutus in Julius Caesar, Porfiry in Crime and Punishment, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor.  As Associate Artistic Director at Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires, Dan acted in and directed over 30 productions, appearing as Coriolanus, Macbeth, Herman Melville, Stephano, Don Armado, Hotspur, Master Ford, Bertram, and Antipholus/Dromio of Ephesus.  He directed S&Co’s first production of The Servant of Two Masters, also his own adaptation of Anaïs Nin’s Henry & June, Vita & Virginia, My Own Stranger, and The Fiery Rain.  Other Regional/New York theatre: Merrimack Rep, North Shore Music Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, StageWest, Alabama Shakespeare, Arden Theatre, Studio 4-A, and Huntington Theatre.  Dan is a published poet and teaches Shakespeare master classes around the country. Memphis Magazine has named him among the “Who’s Who in Memphis” each year from 2009-12, and the Germantown Arts Alliance honored him with its 2009 Distinguished Arts and Humanities Medal for Performing Arts.  He holds a B.A. in Advertising and Journalism from Temple University.  

Cara McHugh (Biondella) TSC: Romeo and Juliet, Shake(s), Rattle, and Roll. University of Louisville: Sleep Rock thy Brain, TheArtifacts, Richard IIIA Play, A Perfect Wedding, and How I Learned to Drive. Bard's Town Theatre: Reasons to Be Pretty and Misses Strata. Cara has an MFA from the University of Louisville, and a B.A. in Theatre from Murray State University.  Cara is a native Memphian.

Melissa A. Nathan* (Production Stage Manager) is based out of New York.  Recent regional theatre: RED (Triad Stage), Deathtrap (Centenary Stage Company), Knight of the Burning Pestle and Our Town (Theater at Monmouth), Educating Rita (Florida Rep), August: Osage County (WPPAC), The Mound Builders (Kaliyuga Arts), Lost in Yonkers (Atlantic Stage), The Diary of Anne Frank (Chenango River Theatre), Wicked City (Depot Theatre), Victory (PTP/NYC), Bonnie & Clyde (Asolo Repertory Theatre), China: The Whole Enchilada (FringeNYC), Twelfth Night and The Imaginary Invalid (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre).

Andrew Joseph Perez* (Lucentio) is an SAFD Actor Combatant, Composer, NASM Personal Trainer, and a graduate of Seattle University's BA Drama program.  Regional theatre: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Capital Stage and San Jose Stage), Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (Sacramento Theatre Company), The Student in Ghost Sonata (Open Circle Theater), Cardinal Pandaulph in King John (Greenstage), and The Little Monk in The Life of Galileo (Strawberry Theatre Workshop).  Andrew has choreographed fights for B St. Theatre, The Alternative Arts Collective, Jesuit High School, Sacramento Theatre Company, and others.  

Benjamin Reed (Hortensio) Regional theatre: The Alley: A Few Good Men (Tom); Tennessee Rep: Red (Ken) and The Columnist (Halberstam); Houston Shakespeare Festival: Hamlet (title role) and As You Like It (Orlando); Nashville Shakespeare Festival: The Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio), Complete Works of William Shakespeare abridged (Adam), Richard III (Richmond); and a company actor with American Shakespeare Center. Benjamin has worked in film with director Christopher Cain, actor and producer Brett Cullen, and comedian Julian Smith.

David Rhea (Curtis) TSC: Macbeth.  David is a young veteran of the stage and of film, and attends Grace Saint Luke’s. He has performed in commercials, independent films, and on stage at Playhouse on the Square, Bartlett Performing Arts Center, Theatre Memphis, Grace Saint Luke’s, and the Kroc.  David loves theatre, physics and music.  His performance in TSC’s Macbeth as Fleance remains his favorite role.  The highlight of his summer is enjoying Tennessee Shakespeare’s Summer camps.

Brian Sheppard* (Hugo Dixon, Grumio) TSC: Hamlet (title role).  Other favorite roles include Dorante in The Liar (Centenary Stage Co.) Jason in Rabbithole (NIU), Cain in Babele (European Live Arts Network), and Olivia in Twelfth Night (Plimoth Players).  Film: Capt. Ben Church in the documentary So Dreadful a Judgment and the upcoming Indie Beautiful Something.  Brian is a founding member of the Plimoth Players, an all-male Shakespeare company in Plymouth, MA.  He holds an MFA from Northern Illinois University and a B.A. in Theatre from Butler University.

Phil Darius Wallace* (Gremio) TSC: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Macbeth, The Glass Menagerie, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It.  Darius is a native of Flint, MI, where he started as an actor with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival as Caliban in The Tempest.  He as worked locally with Playhouse on the Square, Hatiloo Theater, and is now working with The Orpheum to remount his one-man show on the life of Frederick Douglass, which has toured the U.S.  His film credits include Nothing but the Truth, his film 100 Lives, and he also directed Love Choice, a movie dealing with HIV.  Darius is a TSC company member.

Jessica Elizabeth Weaver (servingperson) TSC: Romeo and Juliet (assistant stage manager) and two-year Groundling member.  Local theatre: I Never Saw Another Butterfly (stage manager, assistant director), Best of Broadway Dinner Theatre (stage manager), Heroes and Villains Dinner Theatre (stage manager), and Frankenstein.

Taylor Wood (Assistance Stage Manager is a native Memphian.  Taylor has a degree in Theatre Performance from the University of Mississippi.  Taylor can be seen in the upcoming Playhouse production of The Lyons.


+ Member of The Society of Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.



"The Taming of the Shrew"
by William Shakespeare
directed by Dan McCleary
sponsored by Ann and Wellford Tabor
performed in the Winegardner Auditorium at Dixon Gallery & Gardens, 4339 Park Avenue, Memphis, TN 38117

April 23 – May 4, 2014

Tickets are $15 for Previews; $30 for all other performances; 20% discount for Seniors/Students and Dixon members; FREE for children 17 and younger when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian on Thursday nights.

Box Office is (901) 759-0604 and www.tnshakespeare.org

Description: While William Shakespeare’s earliest Comedy is perhaps also his most controversial, in the hands of vaudeville clowns and actors, it is fall-out funny and engagingly romantic.  Set in Hugo Dixon’s new home on Park Avenue in Memphis 1927, an traveling troupe of actors arrive and are asked to improvise a play for merriment.  What follows is one of the great love stories of all time: “Come on and kiss me, Kate!” For the entire family.


  • John Grisham: Arkansas Rainmaker - February 9
  • New Permanent Year-Round Home for TSC
  • Shakespeare Shout-Out Series
  • New Germantown Municipal School District Partnership
  • New Company d and Memphis VA Partnerships

Next Up: The Southern Literary Salon John Grisham: Arkansas Rainmaker February 9

TSC season webheaders4 salon grisham

TSC presents its next Southern Literary Salon, John Grisham: Arkansas Rainmaker at Thayne and Anne Muller’s inviting English home in East Memphis on Friday, February 9 from 6:00-8:00 pm. 

The evening features fun Southern food, conversation, 45 minutes or so of readings from Mr. Grisham’s works, and a drink or two of the author’s liking:  “Drink the wines from the top shelf,” he counsels. 

Tickets for the Grisham Salon only are $55 and include all of the above. 

Curated and directed by TSC resident artist Stephanie Shine and read by actors Michael Khanlarian, Carmen-maria Mandley, Shaleen Cholera, and Merit Koch, Arkansas Rainmaker will employ text from Mr. Grisham’s works, likely including his first novel, A Time to Kill, as well as The Chamber, Gray Mountain, Calico Joe, and The Rooster Bar.

Mr. Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, in 1955, and became a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer in Southaven, Mississippi after graduating from Ole Miss.  He also served in that state’s House of Representatives for eight years.  While practicing law, he practiced at his hobby: writing.  After 30 rejection letters for his first effort, the novel was finally published with a modest first print.  Far from discouraged, he immediately began his second novel, which ended up being known as The Firm.  Since that novel spent 47 weeks on the NYT bestseller list and became the best-seller of 1991, Mr. Grisham has written one novel per year.  Of those, nine have been adapted into films, including The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, and The Firm.  He also wrote an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.  There are currently over 300 million John Grisham books in print worldwide.

“I don't start a novel until I have lived with the story for awhile to the point of actually writing an outline, and after a number of books I've learned that the more time I spend on the outline the easier the book is to write,” says Mr. Grisham.  “And if I cheat on the outline, I get in trouble with the book.  In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth.  Each of you is an original.  Each of you has a distinctive voice.  When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.”

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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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The First Free Shakespeare Shout-Out Series Launches Our 10th Season throughout Shelby County

pic shakespeare shout out 10 1 17Mario Hoyle (Romeo) and Kiana Holley (Juliet).

We officially launch our tenth anniversary season this week when we bring Romeo and Juliet to the historic outdoor train depot and platform in Collierville Town Square on Saturday, October 7 at 4:00 pm.

Our first Free Shakespeare Shout-Out Series, sponsored by Evans/Petree, P.C., features 11 performances of three touring productions to ten outdoor/indoor locations throughout Shelby County playing through November 10.

No tickets are required.  First come/first seated.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed by Stephanie Shine, questions the future of the Roman Republic, the love that sustains it, and the leadership that breaches it.  Romeo and Juliet, directed by Carmen-maria Mandley, is fast, physical, and daring in its descent from comedy to mortal, young tragedy.  And TSC’s Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll, directed by Shine, pairs the legacy music of Memphis with the famous Shakespeare scenes TSC imagines inspired them.

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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 is generously supported by:

International Paper    FedEx         Tennessee Arts Commission

logo-ibank             University of Memphis  artsmemphis std color logo2500

     First Tenneessee Foundation    

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Evans Petree

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:

Collierville Municipal School District; Dixon Gallery & Gardens; Germantown Municipal School District; Memphis Hunt & Polo Club; Palladio;
Shelby County Schools; The University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a proud member of:
Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence       artsmemphis std color logo2500    logo-gacc          Tennesseans for the Arts     Tennessee Theatre Association     Where We Live