History

A History of Tennessee Shakespeare Company

A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in Germantown, Tennessee, in 2008 as the Mid-South’s professional, classical theatre and education organization, Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC) is the creation of native Memphians Dan McCleary (Producing Artistic Director)and national Disney Teacher of the Year, E. Frank Bluestein (Executive Director).

Dan is a former Associate Artistic Director, artist-manager, and Director of Marketing and Development at Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires. In 2006 he began scouting sites in the southern United States to establish a new classical theatre, and he chose his hometowns of Germantown and Memphis.

In addition to Mr. Bluestein, Dan was joined by Father Gary Sturni of St. George’s Episcopal Church, Mrs. Barbara B. Apperson, Mrs. Donna Ladd, and committee of devoted individuals in making the preparation year possible. Almost all of those involved in that first committee meeting of January 2008, remain as founding Board members or supporters.

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Since then, TSC has grown into a $716,000 (FY15) theatre and education organization that has performed, among other titles, As You Like It inside St. George’s Church and outdoors in Mrs. Apperson’s Forest of Arden, an all-female Julius Caesar in Germantown City Hall, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Poplar Pike Playhouse, Othello inside St. George’s, and Themes from a Midsummer Night (in collaboration with IRIS Orchestra) at Germantown Performing Arts Centre, Macbeth outdoors at the Shelby Farms “Wooden O” outdoor amphitheatre, Romeo and Juliet on the roof of Dixon Gallery & Gardens and inside 820-seat Germantown Performing Arts Center, and Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew as environmental theatre inside the museum of the Dixon. Nearly 20,000 patrons have attended.

Additionally, TSC’s education program has grown at twice its projected pace, having served over 100,000 Mid-South school children from over 100 Memphis area and Southeast schools with Free Will Kids’ Nights, morning matinees, original touring shows, in-school playshops, free interactive Study Guides, and in-school residencies. The jewel of the program is The Romeo and Juliet Project, now entering its fourth year. The Project sends teams of teaching artists into entire Freshman classes in a select Memphis area high school over multiple visits to get students on their feet speaking the text and relating the play’s life-lessons to themselves. The N.E.A. and Arts Midwest have recognized TSC in each of the past two seasons as one of just 40 theatres in the United States to be awarded a Shakespeare in American Communities grant.

TSC has had an economic impact on its community of more than three million dollars ($3,000,000).

In addition to its extraordinary 23-member Board of Directors, TSC is supported by a 30-member TSC Volunteer Organization.