The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival engages the widest possible audience in a fresh conversation about what is essential in Shakespeare’s plays. Our theater lives in the here and now, at the intersection between the virtuosity of the actor, the imagination of the audience, and the inspiration of the text.
Founded in 1987, HVSF’s primary home is a spectacular open-air theater tent at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, NY. Every summer, more than 35,000 patrons join us there for a twelve-week season of plays presented in repertory, with the natural beauty of the Hudson Highlands as our backdrop. Our exuberant productions garner consistent critical acclaim from regional and national media (The New York Times, New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal) for communicating great stories with clarity, energy and imagination. HVSF also takes the magic of Shakespeare and live theater beyond our tent by touring shows throughout the Hudson Valley and by presenting limited runs of classic plays in local landmark venues. Our acclaimed arts education programs include training for early-career theater artists, professional development for educators, and programs and performances that serve more than 40,000 middle and high school students each year.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival was founded by Melissa Stern and Terry O’Brien in September 1987 with an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Manitoga, home of industrial designer Russell Wright, in Garrison, NY. The following year, Boscobel House and Gardens agreed to host HVSF’s mainstage season on the estate’s expansive grounds, and that summer’s production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It was performed under a tent overlooking the Hudson River.
Under O’Brien’s leadership, and with the enthusiastic support of our Board of Directors and community of patrons, HVSF grew dramatically. In 1994, we added a second show to our season. That same year, HVSF deepened its impact on the region by offering hands-on, performance-driven education programs to area schools. In 2004, we began to tour innovative Shakespeare productions to middle and high schools. In 2006, HVSF acquired a spectacular, custom-designed, open-air theatre tent with seating for 540, establishing a performance venue unlike anything else in American theater.
HVSF has served more than 500,000 patrons since our first season in 1987. Terry O’Brien led the theater for 27 years, directing more than 30 productions. O’Brien stepped down as Artistic Director in December 2013. After a nationwide search for his successor, HVSF’s Board appointed Davis McCallum as Artistic Director in May 2014.