American Shakespeare Theatre

American Shakespeare Theatre

The theatre exterior in 1955

The American Shakespeare Theatre was a theater company based in Stratford, Connecticut, United States. It was formed in the early 1950s by Lawrence Langner, Lincoln Kirstein, and philanthropist Joseph Verner Reed. The American Shakespeare Shakespeare Festival Theatre was constructed and the program opened on July 12, 1955 with Julius Caesar.[1]

Plays were produced at the Festival Theatre in Stratford from 1955 until the company ceased operations in the mid-1980s.[2] The company focused on American interpretations of William Shakespeare's plays, but occasionally produced plays by other playwrights. It was the home of the American Shakespeare Festival.[3]

The last full season of the festival as a producing organization was 1982.[1] The last production on the theater stage was a one-person show of The Tempest in September 1989.[1]Plans have begun to use the grounds of the theatre in Summer, 2014 for Youth Theatre program. Other ongoing efforts include plans to raise money to renovate the Theatre itself.

Actors involved with American Shakespeare Theatre include Alex Cord, Earle Hyman, David Groh, Katharine Hepburn, Fred Gwynne, Morris Carnovsky, Will Geer, John Houseman, James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer, Hal Miller Lynn Redgrave, Christopher Walken, Rene Auberjonois, David Birney, Meredith Baxter, Michael Moriarty, Jan Miner, Kate Reid, Fritz Weaver, Dirk Benedict and Charles Siebert.[4]

The 9th Festival! Stratford will present A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by CT Free Shakespeare, on the grounds July 31-Aug 1, 2013.


One of seven crests donated by the Timex corporation was stolen in March 2012. Each of the crests represented a different Shakespearean play. Timex has had a long affiliation with the theatre, starting with a donation of "the world's only properly calibrated sundial" in 1956.[5]



  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ Cooper 1986, p. 14.
  3. ^ Cooper 1986, p. 27.
  4. ^ Houseman & Landau 1959.
  5. ^


  • Cooper, Roberta Krensky (1986). The American Shakespeare Theatre: Stratford, 1955–1985. Associate University Presses. ISBN . 
  • Engle, Ron; Londré, Felicia Hardison; Watermeyer, Daniel J., eds. (1995). Shakespeare Companies and Festivals: An International Guide. Westport: Greenwood Press. ISBN . 
  • Houseman, John; Landau, Jack (1959). The American Shakespeare Festival: The Birth of a Theatre. New York: Simon & Schuster. OCLC 778003. 

External links

  • Guide to American Shakespeare Theatre Plays and prompt books at Houghton Library, Harvard University