Shakespeare Tavern

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The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse 2006 – present

The Shakespeare Tavern is an Elizabethan playhouse located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Starting productions at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta in 1984, the Tavern moved to 499 Peachtree Street in 1990.

The Shakespeare Tavern is home to the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, the first Shakespearean company in the United States to have performed at Shakespeare's Globe in London, England. The Shakespeare Tavern specializes in a theatrical approach called original practice, which focuses on presenting authentic aesthetics of the Elizabethan era. The artistic director for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company is Jeff Watkins.

History of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company

1984 to 1990

The Atlanta Shakespeare Company was started on May 16, 1984 by Jeffrey Watkins, who continues to serve as president of the company. It all began with a performance of As You Like It at Manuel's Tavern on North Highland Avenue. Over a period of six years, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company produced Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew in the back room at Manuel's, and at the nearby Excelsior Mill, attracting national attention with articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and coverage by CBS and CNN.[1]

1990 to 1999

In 1990, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company opened the Shakespeare Tavern at 599 Peachtree Street. Since the Tavern opened, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company has produced over 73 plays, presenting 1,600 plus performances, including more than 30 Shakespeare titles and over 18 period classics by the likes of Aristophanes, Shaw, Aphra Behn, Jean Racine, Christopher Marlowe, Jean Anouilh, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Niccolò Machiavelli, Albert Camus, Jean Genet, Tennessee Williams, Molière, Bertolt Brecht, Jean Cocteau, and Thornton Wilder. In 1995, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company was the first American company to perform on the stage of Shakespeare's Globe in London, England.[2]

1999 to present

After a $1.6 million renovation and expansion, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company opened The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse on October 15, 1999. Complete with a Globe-inspired balcony, the renovated Tavern created an even more active Elizabethan actor/audience dynamic. In spring 2006, after completing a $500,000 renovation, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company revealed a Globe-inspired façade, further adding to the Elizabethan feel of the Tavern.[3]

In 2004, The Shakespeare Tavern was listed as a Major Festival in the book Shakespeare Festivals Around the World by Marcus D. Gregio (Editor).

In spring 2011, the Atlanta Shakespeare Company became the first American company to complete the Shakespearean Canon with a production of Edward III, though the play's authorship is disputed. Following the completion of the canon, they put on a satirical production of Double Falsehood.[4]

With the opening of Henry VIII on June 2nd, 2019, the Shakespeare Tavern completed the Shakespearean canon for the second time.[5]

Company Aesthetics

The Atlanta Shakespeare Company has adopted a theatrical approach known as original practice. The intent of specializing in this approach is to recreate each play’s original production aesthetics. Since the Atlanta Shakespeare Company usually stages the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, original practice means that the aesthetics that are mimicked are those of the Elizabethan era. The Atlanta Shakespeare Company has adopted original practice as a means to bring authenticity to a modern audience. Its commitment to the aesthetic has meant that costumes used in plays are usually hand-made period costumes, all music and sound effects are live, and actors often directly engage and say their lines to the audience. [6]


The Fulton County Board of Commissioners declared December 16, 1998 as Atlanta Shakespeare Company Day.

Additional Programs

The Atlanta Shakespeare Company offers education programs that provide opportunities for students to practice acting and stagecraft. All programs are led and taught by professional educational artists, most of whom also serve as members of the professional Tavern acting company.

Shakespeare Intensive for Teens

Beginning in 2006, the Shakespeare Tavern began offering the Summer Shakespeare Intensive for Teens, also referred to as SIT. Since 2008, there have been two month-long sessions offered. This program is for rising 9th graders to rising college freshman. In the program, students are immersed in a professional-style training program. The experience culminates in three performances of a full-length Shakespeare play on the professional Tavern stage.[7]

Past Productions

Year June Session July Session
2006 As You Like It No session
2007 Hamlet No session
2008 The Tempest A Midsummer Night's Dream
2009 Macbeth The Merchant of Venice
2010 Twelfth Night As You Like It
2011 Julius Caesar Romeo and Juliet
2012 The Comedy of Errors The Tempest
2013 Love's Labour's Lost King John
2014 Othello Hamlet
2015 Macbeth King Lear
2016 Much Ado About Nothing A Midsummer Night's Dream
2017 Twelfth Night As You Like It
2018 The Tempest Romeo and Juliet
2019 Hamlet Macbeth
2020 The Comedy of Errors Two Noble Kinsmen

Shakespeare Superheroes Summer Camp

The Shakespeare Superheroes Summer Camp is designed to introduce younger children into performance through Shakespeare. Usually offering one and two-week sessions throughout the summer, there are several programs offered under the umbrella of Shakespeare Superheroes. [8]

Stage Combat Camp

During a one-week session, the Stage Combat Camp is designed to introduce rising fourth graders to rising eighth graders into safe stage fighting. Children are introduced to storytelling through movement, air broadswords, unarmed combat, and foam sword battles. Camp activities are meant to teach young actors how to utilize their bodies and age-appropriate stage combat techniques to explore Shakespeare’s text emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Each group of students is led by professional actor combatants.

Musical Theatre Camp

Musical Theatre Camp is offered to rising second graders to rising eighth graders. It is designed to introduce children to the language, stories, characters and ideas in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Children are introduced to musical theatre, imagination skills, choreography, singing, and the literature they will encounter later in their academic journeys. Camp activities aim to teach young actors to incorporate voice, movement, dancing, and acting when exploring Shakespeare’s text. These skills aid young actors in exploring contemporary musical theatre repertory emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Groups of students are led through an exploration of contemporary and Elizabethan music.

Shakespeare Superheroes

Shakespeare Superheroes is also the name of one of the summer programs offered to children. The camp is designed to introduce young actors to the language, stories, characters, and ideas in Shakespeare’s plays in age-appropriate ways. Here, children are introduced to theatre, imagination skills, public speaking, creative play through Shakespearean art.

Superheroes Sidekicks Camp

The Superheroes Sidekicks Camp is a two-week summer camp for students from 4 to 6 years old. This camp is meant to be an introduction to performance and theater. Campers engage in mask and costume creation, and other art projects based on characters and poetry from Shakespeare’s plays. The final day of camp is an open class, showcasing what students have learned to parents and family.

Saturday Acting Classes

Beginning in early 2018, the Tavern began offering Saturday acting classes.[9]

In-School Residencies

The Tavern offers residencies for metro Atlanta-area high schools.[10]


  1. ^ "Shakespeare returns to Manuel's Tavern". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. March 8, 1985. p. P/16.
  2. ^ "Atlanta Shakespeare troupe to play in restored Globe". The Albany Herald. Associated Press. May 29, 1995. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
  3. ^ "Shakespeare Tavern reborn: New look replicates London's Globe". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. March 30, 2006. p. JN4.
  4. ^ Minton, Eric. "Playing the Whole Shakespeare Canon: Great Works and Great Work Too". Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  5. ^ "Henry the Eighth — The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse". Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  6. ^ Watkins, Jeff. "About Original Practice". The Atlanta Shakespeare Company. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "Shakespeare Intensive for Teens (SIT) — The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse". Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  8. ^ "Shakespeare Superheroes — The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse". Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "Saturday Acting Classes — The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse". Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  10. ^ "In-School Programs — The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse". Retrieved January 28, 2019.

External links

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