Welcome to the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival

25th Grand Valley Shakespeare  Festival

A Silver Coronation: The Grand Valley Shakespeare Effect


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Announcing Fall 2019 Season

Mainstage Production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

25 years ago, the fledgling Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival committee was preparing for the inaugural season that would begin with A Midsummer Night's Dream. Now, as we look towards the next 25 years, the festival again turns to this classic comedy. Join us, Oberon, Titania, Hermia, Helen, Lysander, Demetrius, and of course Puck and Bottom, and the rest of the villagers, fairies, and mechanicals as we come together again to see Theseus marry Hippolyta, and to be swept off into the forest to watch the foolish mortals. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream Poster from 1994

Poster from the 1994 Premiere Shakespeare Festival Production

Bard to Go Logo

Bard to Go: Tossing on the Ocean

Bard to Go is the Shakespeare festival’s touring production, a 50-minute program of scenes which gives students a lively, accessible introduction to Shakespeare in performance, available for performance at your school.  This year’s program, Bard to Go: Tossing on the Ocean, takes the audience on a sea-faring journey with Prospero, a powerful magician, and his assistant Ariel, a magical spirit with strange powers.  When Prospero and Ariel conjure a storm to shipwreck Prospero’s enemies, their magic spills over from their own play, The Tempest, and causes havoc for many of Shakespeare’s characters.  This production includes scenes from The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Pericles, The Comedy of Errors, and The Merchant of Venice.

Auditions for Fall 2019 Season April 1 and 2

Audition Flyer

Click here for the audition flyer

Fall Shakespeare Festival Productions

Open to all students of any major

Monday, April 1st 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Tuesday, April 2nd 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Sign up for an audition slot for either day at the Hass Center for Performing Arts Box Office

Please prepare:

  • A 1-minute monologue and
  • 16 lines of a Shakespeare play

When auditioning, you will be considered for both productions unless otherwise specified


If you are notified to attend, callbacks will take place Wednesday and Thursday, April 3-4th

A Midsummer Night’s Dream- 4:30pm - 6:30pm Wednesday, April 3

Bard To Go- 4:30pm - 6:30pm Thursday, April 4

Special 25th Retrospective Video

Festival alum Mike Harthen edited this video for our 25th anniversary with voice work provided by festival alum Erin Courtney Harthen. Thanks for the great work Mike and Erin!

Current Season

Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival's 25th Anniversary Season A Silver Coronation: The Grand Valley Shakespeare Effect is coming this fall.

This special season will be filled with many exciting events and celebrations.

King Lear Poster

Download Poster by Clicking

King Lear

Our Mainstage 25th production, as voted by our audience in 2016! 

Ready to “shake off the cares and business from our age,” King Lear stages a love test with his three daughters to give away his kingdom to the one who loves him most. What results is the breaking of family bonds and unleashing of tragic forces in the kingdom as Lear confronts the nature of human existence: love and loss, power and futility, pride and humility, and good and evil. The production features the return of guest actor Brian Webb, who played Paroles in the 2015 production of All’s Well That Ends Well and Richard III in the 2012 production of Richard III.

Directed by Karen Libman

September 28-October 7 

Teachers Special Student Matinees Oct 1, 2, and 4. Click for more information and registration

Sign Language Interpretation available

King Lear Teaser

The 25th Silver Anniversary Production of King Lear directed by Karen Libman and starring Brian Webb Russell. Photography by Rick Malkin. Music "A Knell” by Robert Johnson (c. 1583 – 1633). performed and arranged by Pablo Mahave-Veglia. Video editing by Mallory Caillaud-Jones

Purchase Your Tickets Here!

Click on the image to purchase ticket!

Click on the image to purchase ticket!

Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival Conference

The biennial Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival Conference: Pedagogy and Performance will be held this fall with its special 25th anniversary theme, “My Crown is in My Heart, Not on My Head” –3 Henry VI 3.1.

The conference will feature Keynote speaker Michael LoMonico,  the Senior Consultant on National Education for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. He will also be the Resident Shakespeare Scholar.

His Keynote address to the conference on Friday, September 28 will be free and open to the public. He will also be giving a teaching workshop open to those who register for the conference, and he will also be visiting select Grand Valley classes while he is here. 

Public Keynote Address
Friday, September 28 at 4:30 P.M.
Pere Marquette Room, Russel H. Kirkhof Center,
Allendale Campus

Conference Graphic Header

Conference details can be found at the conference site at http://www.gvsu.edu/shakesconference/ 

Michael LoMonico

2018 Resident Scholar
and Conference Keynote
Michael LoMonico of the Folger Library

Bard To Go Twelfth Night

Bard to Go returns with an all-new, 50-minute version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for its 2018 schools tour. 

Featuring six actors playing multiple roles and covering the complete play, this fast-paced, lively production presents to students the classic love triangle of disguised Viola, lovesick Orsino, and grieving Olivia in one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. 

Free public performances
September 29 and October 6, noon and 1 p.m.
ArtPrize entry, L.V. Eberhard Center, near the Blue Bridge

November 3 at 1 p.m.
Loosemore Auditorium
Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Secondary School tour
October 12, 19, 26 and November 2

Schools: Click Here for School Performance Information and scheduling

Bard to Go Logo Shakespeare Head as Malvolio in Cross Garters

Alumni Production of a NEW PLAY!!

As a new event to celebrate 25 years of the Shakespeare Festival, we welcome back alumni from our seasons. Alumnus Scott Watson is finishing a new play, titled Defy the Stars, which will be performed as part of the 25th season. The play follows two actors being held at the Westerbork Transit Camp in the Netherlands in July 1942. In order to save themselves and others from deportation to Auschwitz, these actors stage a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Watson graduated from Grand Valley in 2009 with a B.A. in theatre and currently works as an actor and playwright in New York City.

Thanks to the generous support of The Wesselink Family Foundation, the Joseph Stevens Freedom Endowment, and the Grand Valley Department of Political Science, we are able to perform Defy the Stars as a complex staged reading for three performances, with a full cast, and some production values. The production is staged by alumnus director Jason Flannery and features an all alumni cast and production staff. 

Alumni who are interested in being involved in the production should watch for news announcements on this website, watch the Festival Facebook page, and email Katherine Mayberry at maybekat@gvsu.edu for questions.

Performances are free and open to the public and will take place in the new Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre in the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts. 

  • Wednesday, October 3 and Sunday October 7 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 6 at 2 p.m.

Festival Alumni Picnic!!

The Shakespeare Festival is hosting a special Alumni Picnic for all festival alumni on Sunday, October 7 at the Grand Ravines Lodge of the Grand Ravines Park, just south of the Grand Valley Allendale Campus.

The picnic is from 11-1:30. Additionally, festival alumni can get tickets to King Lear for the special anniversary price of $5, the cost of tickets for students when the festival opened. Alumni are encouraged to attend the Sunday, October 7 matinee in conjunction with the picnic, and we have a special offer of babysitting for that performance. Contact the box office to make reservations for the picnic, for King Lear, and for the evening performance of Defy the Stars. See the flyer for more details. 

Picnic Invite

Alumni Picnic at Grand Ravines North Park

Grand Ravines North lodge

The Lodge at Grand Ravines North Park, just south of the Allendale Campus

Festival Greenshow

Festival Greenshow

Our Festival Greenshow will be cast in September and will feature a new production that will perform for Family Weekend and the Grand Valley Renaissance Faire as well as at the Festival Conference and a public performance on Thursday, October 4. Details and audition information to follow. 

Newsletter Cover Image

2017-18 Annual Newsletter

Newsletter Now Available

The Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival annual Newsletter has been printed and distributed. It is available here as a PDF to download and enjoy. 


Twitter feed for @GShakes1993

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GVSU Shakespeare Festival
GVSU's production of King Lear runs September 28-Oct 7! General Admission is $15 (see website for student/staff/group pricing) Tickets are available now at (616) 231-2300, or through gvsu.edu/shakes/king-le… #gvsushakes
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GVSU Shakespeare Festival
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Remembering Jacob Owen Jager, Jake

With heavy hearts, we say goodbye to one of our own, Jake Jager, who passed away on March 3, 2018. Jake has been a pillar of our theatre program since beginning at Grand Valley in fall 2013. He happily stepped onto our stage into a role in Much Ado About Nothing to fill a role in need of an actor. Once on the stage, he was rarely off. As one of our most prolific performers, it is most fitting that Jake helped christen the new Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre playing the Emcee in Cabaret. Beyond the boards, Jake was also a leader in the classroom and among the students. He was an active part of Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society, serving in a variety of roles for the Grand Valley Chapter, including as president. At times in fall 2017 it took all he had to take the stage as one of the Ariel's in Tempest and to sing "Willkommen" in Cabaret, but that's what he loved and where he shined as a brilliant shooting star. 

Jake Jager

JULY 6, 1994 ~ MARCH 3, 2018

                              My Ariel, chick,
That is thy charge: then to the elements
Be free, and fare thou well! 

Bio from The Tempest program. 
Jake Jager (Ariel 1) is a senior theatre major with minors in music and advertising and public relations. He is also a Shakespeare Scholarship recipient and Secretary and past President of APO. He has appeared previously at Grand Valley as Launce, Autolycus, Jaques in Bard to Go: Witty fools and Foolish Wits, Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors, and Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing, all for the Shakespeare Festival, Tobias in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, David in Company, and Dad in Sex and the Supernatural. He has also appeared as Ruben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Sancho in The Man of La Mancha for Shadblow Theatre. In addition, he served as promotions and sponsorship for Beauty and the Beast, Noises Off, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for Shadblow Theatre where he also serves as an Advisory board member from 2016 season - present.

Jake Jager as Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing

Antonio in 2013 Much Ado About Nothing

Jake Jager as Dromio of Syracuse

Dromio of Syracuse in
2014 The Comedy of Errors.
Jake received the Irene Ryan Nomination from KC/ACTF for his performance. 

Jake Jager as Aulolycus

Autolycus in Bard to Go:Witty Fools and Foolish Wits 2015

Jake Jager as Airel in The Tempest

Ariel in 2017 The Tempest

Shakespeare Festival 20th Reception

Jake at the opening night reception of the 2013 Production of Much Ado About Nothing, the festival's 20th season production. Jake was the first student actor in a festival production who was younger than the festival itself. 

Jake Jager as the Emcee in Cabaret

Emcee in 2017 Cabaret, the inaugural production in the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre.

Jake Graduation with faculty

Jake Jager graduation with President Haas

Jake graduated from Grand Valley in a special ceremony in February 2018 in the Keller Black Box, fittingly onstage, where he always gave his best. 

Jake Jager graduation with students

Donations to recognize Jake’s life and legacy may be made to the Jake Jager Memorial Scholarship at GVSU; the Pediatric Oncology Resource Team (PORT) at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to support those that provided him care over the past six years; or to spread happiness, to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of West Michigan who made a dream of his come true.

Visit Theatre at Grand Valley Site to view 2017-2018 Season

Visit the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance Website

Visit the English Department Site

Member: Shakespeare Theatre Association, Theatre Alliance of Michigan. All shows are associate entries in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival  


5% of ticket revenue to be donated to Red Cross

Hurricane Relief

During rehearsals and development for The Tempest, the U.S. and islands of the Caribbean were struck by the powerful hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. As a festival, we were struck by the vivid reality of such storms, and we could not perform a play called The Tempest without acknowledging these storms and the devastation, suffering, and grief they brought. In response, the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival donated 5 percent of all ticket revenue from The Tempest to the Red Cross for hurricane relief.