Bard Wars III at Proof Brewing

BardWarsJediThe Jedi Doth Return, the third installment of Southern Shakespeare’s Bard Wars series, is coming to Proof Brewing Co. in Railroad Square on December 16th from 6 pm to 9 pm. It’s a celebration leading to the opening of the seventh episode of the Star Wars ennealogy (a word worthy of Shakespeare).

Credit Ian Doescher with the brilliant idea of retelling the Star Wars stories in verse worthy of the Bard, thereby combining TWO of the Top Ten List of Obsessions on Not that we’re biased, but you really haven’t lived until you’ve heard Darth Vader say to Luke, “If thou wilt not fight, then thou shalt meet thy destiny.”

While we are on the subject of Top Ten lists, did we mention BEER? The brews at Proof are as nuanced as a Hamlet soliloquy, or as brash as an untamed shrew. Remember the bar in the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope? There won’t be as many aliens, but mixing Shakespeare aficionados with Star Wars devotees COULD be a multicultural experience!

There will be Southern Shakesbeer Growlers available with discount coupons on refills. You can become a member of the Southern Shakespeare Company with the corresponding benefits of reserved seating for our Festival in April and other perks. Ask about our Education and Community Outreach programs. Maybe you’d like to learn more about The Bardlings, our junior company of middle and high school students learning and performing Shakespeare all over Tallahassee.

Find out about our Shakespeare Uncorked Wine Festival in January. You could book a production of our touring show, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) for your civic organization, or where you can see this hilarious play in venues around the Big Bend.

So come on down to Proof at 644 McDonnell Dr. in Railroad Square on Dec. 16. Your growler and other merchandise purchases will benefit the Southern Shakespeare Company, so you get to indulge in any number of your guiltiest pleasures for a good cause.

Membership Has Its Privileges

membership-levels-whiteIt is that time of the year to renew your SSC membership for 2016-17. And don’t forget our membership program now includes the ‘Society of the Bard’.

The Society of the Bard was created so that our members could directly support SSC’s education programs. For more information about this and our other membership levels, click here.

Bard Wars II: The Empire Striketh Back

IMG_9496So, you’ve never seen Star Wars done in quite this way before?? Here’s your chance to watch a melding of TWO of the greatest obsessions known to humankind:

Star Wars AND Shakespeare!

WHAT?? Check out BARD WARS II at Proof Brewing in Railroad Square on Saturday, October 17 from 4 – 7 pm, and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

That’s right, some crazy/brilliant guy named Ian Doescher actually took Star Wars screenplays and converted them into Shakespearean verse. So come watch Darth Vader, Obi Wan, Luke & Leia, and the gang take on some Shakespeare.

While you’re there, pick up one of our Southern Shakesbeer Growlers and enjoy a good brew, in our galaxy.

The Southern Shakespeare Festival is proud to present a couple of scenes from “The Empire Striketh Back” at Proof Brewing.

We’re not saying you have to do up your hair like Princess Leia, or wear a Wookie mask. Unless, of course, you’re as NUTS as we are for the chance to get all Shakespearean while paying tribute to the greatest movie franchise of ALL TIME! But there may be a few surprises for all you Han Solo’s out there.

Come on down to Proof at 644 McDonnell Dr. in Railroad Square on Oct. 17.
Your growler and other merchandise purchases will benefit the Southern Shakespeare Festival, so you get to indulge in any number of your guilty pleasures for a good cause.

A New Way to Support SSC


Put your purchases to work for Southern Shakes! Recently, the Southern Shakespeare Company was accepted as a Not For Profit charity by Amazon Smile. What that means is that Amazon customers can designate the Southern Shakespeare Company as their charity of choice, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchases to help keep Shakespeare in Tallahassee!

And it’s REALLY easy. To shop at AmazonSmile, go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. Sign in and select Southern Shakespeare Company as your favorite charity. Then shop as you would normally on Amazon, everything is the same, but you will see “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” in the description of the products you are purchasing. It doesn’t cost you a thing! AmazonSmile gives out of its own share of the cost of the product.

You can find out more about the particulars by going to and clicking on “Learn more about AmazonSmile”. It’s a great way to continue doing what you do and give a little back to the Bard in the Big Bend!


Jef Canter took a few detours on road to acting


Jef Canter from a production of “Stand Tall” at the New York Musical Theater Festival. Canter will play Bottom in the revived Shakespeare festival’s main stage production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Though actor and Tallahassee native Jef Canter decided to pursue a career in theater only 10 years ago, his passion stems from a lifetime of creativity.

While he was growing up in Tallahassee, Canter participated in his school’s choral program, played a few instruments, and acted in local productions put on by Young Actors Theater (then Young Actors Studio.) Canter’s desire to act wasn’t what drew him to Young Actors initially, although it is what made him stay.

“A lot of my friends were in Young Actors, and I thought it looked like a lot of fun, so I went and fell in love with it,” he said. “I loved being on stage.”

Despite a love and talent for the theater, Canter decided to pursue a career as a musician after high school. After spending some time in Chicago and Nashville, Tenn., working in bands and as a songwriter, Canter decided to put his musical career on hold and moved back to Tallahassee to finish his bachelor’s degree at Florida State University. He didn’t study music or theater, though; he graduated from the school of business with a degree in marketing, with the intention of attaining a steadier job.

The full article can be read here:

Shakespeare Festival merges literature, culture

Renaissance performers on parade all across the park

Karl Etters
Democrat staff writer @KarlEtters on Twitter

Siophan McGovern, right, and Don Seamus Mac Dubhghaill battle to kick off the Southern Shakespeare Festival on Saturday.

Siophan McGovern, right, and Don Seamus Mac Dubhghaill battle to kick off the Southern Shakespeare Festival on Saturday.

A rapier blow to each arm rendered Siophan McGovern unable to defend herself and ended the bout with Don Seamus Mac Dubhghaill. The conversation between their thin swords was for honor, chivalry and the Barony of Oldenfeld in the Kingdom of Trimaris – Northwest Florida – as part of the Society of Creative Anachronism which recreates pre-1600s history. It also kicked off the second day of literature and theater at the Southern Shakespeare Festival at Cascades Park. When Dubhghaill, one of a half-dozen fencers entertaining the crowd, got involved with SCA in 1995, he instantly fell in love with it. Having played the medieval role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, there was a large draw to the group, which is focused on recreating aspects of life from that time period. “This is like real life D&D. I get to fight and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Dubhghaill said. “It’s awesome.” From full-armor combat, jousting, sewing, cooking, dancing and music the SCA, an international living history group, studies and learns about the good aspects of the middle ages and tries to recreate them. “You’re around likeminded people,” Dubhghaill said. “They love history and they’re here for it and the fact that we get to play and do this kind of stuff. There’s nothing like it.” The Bardolatry of the Southern Shakespeare festival returned after a 19-year break from the gathering in Tallahassee.

The full article can be read here:

Spirit of Shakespeare invades Cascades Park


An audience takes in a free performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Capital City Amphitheater at Cascades Park on Friday.

The Southern Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” caps off the daylong Renaissance Festival. Here is the schedule of today’s events.

10:00 am: Festival opens, all booths and vendors (food and artisan) open.

10:30 am: ON BRIDGE Society for Creative Anachronism Fencing Demonstration 11:00 am: ON STAGE Performance of Midsummer by Ballet Arts Conservatory of Tallahassee

The full article can be read here:

Return’d so soon: It’s lovely to have The Bard back

The newly revived Southern Shakespeare Festival is presenting “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this weekend in Cascades Park. It’s the same play the Festival did when it premiered in 1996. (Photo: Democrat files)

By: Kati Schardl
Guest columnist

A year ago, on a bright May afternoon, I perched on the edge of a hard narrow wooden seat in the midst of a gaggle of tourists, and thought myself in heaven.

It was the last day of my first-ever visit to London. I had spent the morning mudlarking with my friend Linda on the foreshore of the Thames. Laden with our finds – pottery shards, bits of thick, iridescent glass, long ceramic pipe stems and other small treasures – we had crossed the Millennium Bridge and split up. Linda went into the Tate Modern museum. I had headed for the reconstructed Globe Theatre.

Perched in the stalls, high above where the groundlings would stand, my fellow tourists and I were watching a rehearsal of a scene from “Antony and Cleopatra,” which was almost better than seeing the actual production. Tricky bits of stagecraft were being worked out, with actors on ropes being hoisted above the stage and banners awkwardly brandished. The director and actors and musicians and tech people were all milling about in orchestrated disorder. It was fascinating and thrilling, and it was pure, unadulterated Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote his plays for the Globe, with all its advantages and drawbacks. They were – for the most part – meant to be performed al fresco. Their greatness is that they transcend – and enhance, in the right hands – the environment in which they’re performed. But to see a snippet of a play performed on the stage for which it was written – that was magic, a perfect farewell kiss from London to me, a fervent fan of the Bard.

The full article can be read here:

‘Midsummer’ is funny, far out fairy tale

ssf-msd-promo-coverNeil Coker, TLH blogger

Everything you need to know about the reborn Southern Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is embodied in a pre-show announcement: Should the roar of a nearby train interrupt the proceedings, the cast will stop the action and invite the audience to join them in singing “Hello, I Love You” by The Doors.

It’s definitely not a traditional, stuffy Shakespearean snooze-fest.

On Wednesday evening, I was treated to an early look at “Midsummer,” a rhapsodic fable of hapless lovers, forest nymphs and meddling forces. Centuries after it was written, it remains the quintessential fairy tale.

The full article can be read here:
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The Amazing Capital Race

AmazingCapRace2015_LogoThe Southern Shakespeare Festival is proudly participating in the Amazing Capital Race! Join the fun with us!

The Amazing Capital Race, presented by the Capital Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association, is an adventure-style race celebrates Tallahassee’s unique personality.

Like its cable TV counterpart, the Amazing Capital Race takes teams of two on a thrilling quest, but all within Downtown Tallahassee. Teams will also stop to complete challenges hosted by local businesses and organizations along the way.

Date: April 18th
Time: 9am-12pm
Location: Gaines and Madison Streets
Cost: $50 for teams of 2, includes 2 race t-shirts

Tallahassee Magazine does Southern Shakes!


Kevin Carr, Lanny Thomas and Laura Johnson give a little preview of the “Summer of Love” version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

(Reprinted with permission from Tallahassee Magazine, March/April Issue)

In the March/April issue of Tallahassee Magazine, Southern Shakespeare Festival figures prominently as one of the many Spring events in Tally. Our Executive Director, Laura W. Johnson, it on the cover of the issue, and the story features quotes from her, Dr. Kevin Carr, the Education Director, and Lanny Thomas, the Artistic Director.

“As a professional theater program, our primary mission is education,” Laura is quoted as saying, “It’s a year-round education program, and it culminates in this Spring Festival.”

Kevin spoke to the Tallahassee Magazine staff, saying, “My job is to coordinate programs to get the community interested in Shakespeare and to educate, as well as find the best way to allow audiences to connect with his works.”

The lead photo has the three Directors in costume on stage at the Capital City Amphitheater in Cascades Park where the show will be performed. This is a nod to the production of Shakespeare’s  A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“Most of the play is about couples who are in love or not in love or fighting and coming together at the end, so we set the play in San Francisco 1967 which is considered the “Summer of Love,” Lanny said in the article, “There will be a lot of tie-dye, wild costumes, and a live rock band.

The article is linked on SSF’s Facebook page, or you can read it at:

Musical Mystery Tour: Introducing The Grateful Bard

Steve On GuitarSteve Hodges, the Musical Director for Southern Shakespeare, and I had half a million meetings to find just the right music for our 60s rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And it’s been a nostalgic labor of love, as both of us are “young” enough to have this music imprinted into our brains at an impressionable age. Steve hid a transistor radio purchased by his stepfather in Hong Kong under his pillow throughout the long nights of 1967 small-town Texas, and I purchased my first album, The Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man, at a record store near Berkeley, California in the summer of ‘65. It’s funny how memories of when you first heard I Can’t Get No Satisfaction come rolling back into your mind, along with the air guitar and the fist microphone.

But matching tunes with the characters of Midsummer is a daunting task, given that it’s, well, Shakespeare. And while negotiating the labyrinth of music rights and royalties in the 21st century, we had to pick songs to enhance the action of the play before knowing who was cast. What if an actress wants to be accompanied by Joan Baez, while we were thinking of her as more Aretha Franklin? Maybe Puck would be a Black Sabbath fan, not the Lovin’ Spoonful groupie we envisioned. We could be lost in the AM world when the rest of the company was tuned into the alternative FM stations.

Fortunately, the band assembled for Midsummer, known as The Grateful Bard, is a collection of musicians with eclectic and diverse talents, not the least of which is Improvisation. When they play a cover of a song, you will recognize it in the first four bars, but with a Tallahassee twist (apologies to Chubby Checkers).

Evan Powell, on keyboard, cracked his knuckles under the tutelage of jazz greats Bill Peterson and Marcus Roberts. Aaron Kinman, on bass, is a young man with a long list of gigs all over the Southeast. Adam Hendley, on drums, does percussion for his own Urban Soul while still keeping the beat for the Bill Peterson Trio. And Steve Hodges, their fearless leader on guitar, brings decades of listening to all kinds of crazy things, wasting his childhood watching classic TV shows, and playing a motley collection of styles on anything with strings. They all have “big ears” and are comfortable mixing it up, stirring it vigorously, and blowing it all out.

Incidentally, it isn’t just popular music the band will be tapping into. There are a whole host of auditory cultural icons we might use. Even if these tunes are now considered classics to the Millennials, can you sing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island? Looney Tunes? The Three Stooges? Are there sound effects from TV or the movies of the era that we all somehow recognize, even if we don’t know where from? Steve and the Grateful Bard may surprise you with a few of those gems too.

Who knew Shakespeare could be this much fun?

Gala Regaled


It was a blast! The Southern Shakespeare Festival’s Inaugural Groovin’ Gala brought Peace, Love and Macro-mayhem to all that hung out at Mint Lounge/Versailles on Saturday, January 31. Haven’t seen that much hair since Woodstock, as most participants took the 60s costume theme to the Outer Limits. It was truly an outta sight, succeessful event benefiting the Education Programs of SSF.

Highlights? Tons. The presentation from WFSU previewing the Eco-Shakespeare Tours and the Shakespeare Uncovered series. Tasha Weinstein and Kim Kelling Engstrom of WFSU, and Sandy Goldberg from WNET in New York introduced the PBS programming that had all enthralled. Kevin Carr and Leslie Smith of the Tallahassee Democrat lent credence to the educational mission being supported by the Gala.

But maybe it was the music from Black Cat Bones that truly had people on their feet. Or it could have been the food and drink supplied by 101 Restaurant that made people come back for seconds, thirds and fourths. OOH, was it the hopscotch, Ring Toss, and the Scavenger Hunt that Executive Director Laura W. Johnson led that kept everyone laughing and jumping for joy? Or the go-go dancers, Genoa, Cassie and Theresa? Who knows? It could have just been the spirit of the 60s that all seemed to take to heart.

We would like to thank everyone that helped put the Gala on, especially the Gala Committee. But most of all, it was the attendees that truly made it into the happenin’ that it was.

And NOW (drum roll, please), we have a pictorial history of our FIRST GROOVIN’ GALA!  Click on an image below to see some of what was happenin’. If you were there, we have a whole host of photos to re-live the memories IN ORDER! If you weren’t there, live vicariously though an “outta sight” evening. Just click on the images below to see the whole shindig through the lens of Wade Bishop Photography.