Since 2000, Maryland Shakespeare Festival has brought the magic of Shakespeare under the stars to audiences across the state, from the eastern shore to the mountains of Allegany County, the shoreline north of Baltimore to the heart of the Washington Capitol area. The company has been chosen by both the City of Gaithersburg and the Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Commission as the preferred theatrical company to provide their twenty-year tradition of summer Shakespeare.
Over the years, Maryland Shakespeare Festival has garnered a reputation for its professionalism and dynamic playing style. We bring fourteen actors (including Equity guest artists) and the work of some of the most respected designers in the Baltimore/Washington corridor to parks, band shells and theaters in a wide range of communities. Like the circus coming to town, our tech crew arrives in the morning, and by evening the magic of Shakespeare’s timeless stories are brought to life.
A full service touring organization, Maryland Shakespeare Festival provides not only set, lights, sound, and publicity materials, but a community building, hyper theatrical Festival experience. A ‘green show’ creates the environment by warming up the arriving audience with strolling musicians, a children’s pre-show (including the audience etiquette and the entire evening’s storyline in under 15 minutes), and an invitation to play in the celebration of life, summer, family, and Shakespeare.
Company Aesthetic – The Festival Atmosphere & Original Practices
This is not your grandma’s Shakespeare! Maryland Shakespeare Festival believes in playing like they did in Shakespeare’s day, and is one of seven Original Practice Laboratories in the world. With extensive research and training by the core company, MSF works to bring Shakespeare back to life as the playwright intended for his plays, players and playhouses. We play with (and light) the audience, including them in the story. We include interludes (instead of intermission) filled with live contemporary music. We create an atmosphere of play and imagination, of poetry and visceral storytelling. The jokes are funny, the sad parts touching. We believe Shakespeare was never meant to be a dose of cultural medicine, but a vibrant, fun, and communal event that makes a difference in our lives. It is a central piece of our mission to bring Shakespeare out of the dark and stuffy theater and into the park where everyone, no matter their cultural or economic background, can enjoy. For more information on what it means to perform Shakespeare using Original Practices, click here.
What MSF Specifically Provides to Presenting Organizations
- A 2-hour family-friendly production performed by a 12-member professional company.
- The Green Show: a 40-minute pre-show to entertain picnicking patrons that includes a children’s overview of the play, strolling musicians and variety performers, and an invitation to play.
- All sets, costumes, sound & lighting equipment, and dressing rooms appropriate for an outdoor venue seating 600-800.
- Playbills for all audiences including special recognition of your venue & sponsors.
- Marketing materials (see below).
- Wet weather/indoor contingency plan.
- 5-person Technical Crew & Venue Liaison.
- Optional Workshops (for an additional fee) for children, audience, and/or VIP’s in your community.
- Contact information for a Sign Interpreter who has prepared with the company and knows the performance, to be separately contracted.
Maryland Shakespeare Festival helps each presenting organization promote its performance by publicizing the tour as a whole with regional advertising (past sponsor The Washington Post has run 1/4-3/4 page ads throughout tour), calendar listings, E-Newsletter blasts, and the MSF website where links to each Presenting Organization accompany full touring performance information and downloadable media materials. In addition, Maryland Shakespeare Festival provides the following promotional materials to aid the Presenting Organization’s own publicity efforts.
- 100 Posters (11×17) with space to add venue specifics
- Adaptable Media Alerts (including general info and possible features)
- Electronic Versions of Promotional Photographs
- Electronic Versions of Company and Show Logos
- Electronic Version of 8 ½ x 11” Flyer
- Contact Information for key Artists
- Synopsis of Play
- Publicity Blurbs for Play
- Artists’ Biographies
What Presenting Organizations Should Expect to Provide
- 24’ x 24’ level stage (band shell, theater space, or portable aluminum staging on grass installed prior to arrival)
- One 300 amp whisper quiet generator – delivered prior to arrival
(or equivalent power for indoor venues)
- Dressing Room space for 14 actors (indoor venue only)
- 20 Folding Chairs
- Marketing and promotion for performances within their community
- One Staff liaison for project and site support
- Housing – if located more than 100 miles from Frederick
Optional Residencies & Ancillary Programming
- Conversation with the artists: 30-minute pre or post show discussion with the actors and director exploring the themes and story of the play.
- Playing Shakespeare: a one-hour workshop for middle and high schoolers, which can be adapted for adults, on the art of using Shakespeare’s language onstage in a way that connects intellect with imagination and physicality.