Georgia Shakespeare was co-founded in 1985 by Kirby McLain (Lane) Anderson, Richard Garner and Robert Watson. After a year of planning, fundraising and researching other Shakespeare companies around the country, Georgia Shakespeare (then called Georgia Shakespeare Festival) opened its first season on July 10, 1986, and featured The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear in rotating repertory. Over 6,000 people attended the twenty-five performances that season, held in a 60’ X 90’ white tent located on the Oglethorpe University front athletic field.
Three underlying principles were established in that first season that have shaped Georgia Shakespeare’s identity over the years. Georgia Shakespeare committed to hiring a professional company of artists who were supported by student interns, the shows were presented in rotating repertory and a commitment was made to hire and nurture local artists.
Three different field locations on the Oglethorpe campus hosted three different versions of the tent theatre in the first eleven years. The rectangular 60’ X 90” tent in the inaugural season had a seating capacity of 300 and was replaced the second season with a 90’ diameter circular tent seating 350. Four years later a 110” diameter circular tent, seating 400, became the home until 1996. Planning began in 1995 to work with Oglethorpe Universityto build a permanent performance home for Georgia Shakespeare and to serve as the OU performing arts center. In the summer of 1997, the $5.7 million John A. and Miriam H. Conant Performing Center opened with Georgia Shakespeare’s production of The Tempest. The 509-seat modified thrust stage is Georgia Shakespeare's official home.
Over the years, more than 12 different educational programs were developed serving an audience from elementary aged students to adults. Touring productions, Camp Shakespeare, High School Conservatory, No Fear Shakespeare Teacher Development, after school residencies, in-school workshops, student matinees and classes for professionals and the public combine to make up an active education department. Georgia Shakespeare received the 2002 ABBY Award for Outstanding Arts Education.
In 2001, Georgia Shakespeare became only the second theater in Georgia to be a member of the League of Resident Theaters (LORT). Georgia Shakespeare is a proud memeber of Theatre Communications Group, Shakespeare Theatre Association of America, Southeastern Theatre Conference, and Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts.
Suzi Bass Awards History
2013-2014 Suzi Awards Featured Actor Play: Richard Garner, One Man, Two Guv'nors
2011-2012 Suzi Awards
Director Play: Richard Garner, Much Ado About Nothing Featured Actress Play: Bethany Anne Lind, The Glass Menagerie
2010-2011 Suzi Awards
Lighting Design Play: Mike Post, The Odyssey: A Journey Home 2009-2010 Suzi Awards Costume Design Musical: Douglas J. Koertge, Shrew: The Musical
2008-2009 Suzi Awards Featured Actor Play: Tim McDonough,Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Scenic Design: Kat Conley, Titus Andronicus Sound Design: Clay Benning and Klimchak, Titus Andronicus
2007-2008 Suzi Awards Lead Actor Play: Joe Knezevich, Richard III Featured Actor Play: Andrew Benator, Eurydice Costume Design: Christine Turbitt, The Merchant of Venice Scenic Design: Kat Conley, Eurydice
2005-2006 Suzi Awards Production Play: Metamorphoses Ensemble Play: Metamorphoses Lead Actor Play: Chris Kayser, Twelfth Night Scenic Design: Tim Conley, Metamorphoses Lighting Design: Liz Lee & Mike Post, Metamorphoses Sound Design: Clay Benning & Kendall Simpson, Metamorphoses