Texas Travel

Return of the Texas Shakespeare Festival

By Chuck Cox 6.19.13

Along with Dairy Queens, country and western music, and pickup trucks, the Bard is alive and well behind the “pine curtain” for one month each summer. And the Texas Shakespeare Festival is a whole lot more than an excuse to sit in some much-needed air conditioning for a couple of hours.

Since its inception as part of the Texas Sesquicentennial celebration in 1986, the annual event attracts professional actors, directors, costume designers, and theater technicians to Kilgore College to put on two Shakespeare productions, a musical, a classic, and a children’s show, and bring some culture to East Texas during the dog days.

This year’s 27th season, which opens June 27 and closes July 28, will feature “The Comedy of Errors,” “The Winter’s Tale,” “Camelot,” “The Foreigner,” and “The Enchanted Forest.”

Kilgore College largely funds the festival, which was started by theater professor Raymond Caldwell, who serves as the festival’s artistic director. Kilgore College also provides rehearsal space, office space, meals, and dormitories for the participants, who come from all over the United States.

The festival also has been awarded numerous grants throughout the years. Some notable alums of the Texas Shakespeare Festival include Michael C. Hall (“Six Feet Under”), Danny Pino (“Cold Case”), and Glenn Kessler (“Damages”).

As a Kilgore College alum, I have been to numerous Texas Shakespeare Festival productions. And every single one of them has been spectacular. And Van Cliburn Auditorium is a very intimate venue in which several audience members are extremely close to the stage. It truly is amazing to see Shakespeare’s work come to life with some incredibly talented actors and directors.

And, heck, after you soak in a play and perhaps grab yourself a festival T-shirt, you can jump in your pickup, crank up some George Strait, and go grab yourself a Blizzard.