2019 is our NINEteenth season of providing high-caliber productions, innovative educational INITIATIVES, and meaningful community outreach programs to the midwest. Located in Lincoln, Nebraska and incorporated as a not-for-profit in 2004, the Flatwater Shakespeare Company is recognized as one of the region's premier stage ensembles.
THE MISSION OF FLATWATER SHAKESPEARE COMPANY IS TO ENTERTAIN AND EDUCATE AUDIENCES IN LINCOLN AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES THROUGH SHAKESPEARE AND OTHER HIGH QUALITY THEATRE PRODUCTIONS.
Flatwater Shakespeare Company is intent on connecting younger audiences, non-traditional audiences, and under-represented groups with the dramatic arts, and exciting productions of Shakespeare's plays can broaden the base for all theater audiences: after all, Shakespeare has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts as the richest "common ground" for American communities.
our summer production is designed to tour underserved neighborhoods throughout Lincoln. Our educational programs have partnered with other theatres, public school systems, private schools, colleges, and universities in Nebraska and with nationally-known institutions, such as the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC. We will continue to build on this solid foundation of initiatives and partnerships.
Flatwater Shakespeare, operating as "Shakespeare at Wyuka Cemetery", presented its first production in June of 2001.
The project started when Doug Evans and his daughter, actress and director Susanne Evans contacted director Bob Hall, saying they believed that an historic stable facility at Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska might make a wonderful Shakespearean theatre.
The building consisted of a wonderful late nineteenth century horse barn with two wings of stables to the north and south and a storage building to the west surrounding a brick surfaced courtyard that could make a perfect open-air Shakespearean theatre. Wyuka's trustees agreed, since for some time they had wanted to promote the fact that a beautiful section of its grounds had always been designated as park land.
With the help of Mark Fairchild, Suzanne Evans, George Hansen, Stephen Gaines, Vince Learned, Sean Strough, Richard Schroeder, Janice Stauffer, Becky Boesen, Mark Baldridge, Richard Imig (who has been the project's designer ever since), Margy Ryan, and Stephen Charest along with many others, Twelfth Night opened as a pilot project to see if an audience would show up.
The audience came, the production was a success, and so in June of 2002, the Shakespeare project produced Much Ado About Nothing to equally enthusiastic audiences. That year UNL Professor Stephen Buhler came on board as actor, musician, education director and dramaturg. Just as importantly, we created a partnership with Fred Stuart, who that year had joined with Vince Learned to take over management of The Haymarket Theatre. Fred also played Don John in Much Ado. The Haymarket theatre and The Wyuka Shakespeare project subsequently collaborated on in-door productions such as Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Macbeth.
For the third summer show, Michelle Zinke came on board as Production Stage Manager, a job she continues to do in addition to being the theatre's current board president.
By 2004, it was clear that support was there to sustain the Shakespeare project and that it should establish its own identity as a not for profit theatre. Flatwater Shakespeare Company became the official name. Flatwater’s first production was 2005’s Measure for Measure at the Lied Center. Bob Halland Stephen Buhler were the founding members and the invaluable work of board members Liz Banset and Steve Head should be noted.
Also in 2005, Flatwater also inaugurated an on going Youth Project that presenteda teen / pre-teen version of our June offering. The first production featured some of Lincoln’s finest young actors performing Henry V on the same set as our adult production. Direction was by Tom Crew, who served as Youth Director for many years.
Flatwater Shakespeare continued to grow and in 2006 a September production was added at Wyuka. Not only did this additional show become popular with our regular audience, it also enabled us to invite school groups for the first time. The fall series at Wyuka has presented Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Richard III, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra.
In 2010, the Historic Stables at Wyuka began a four-year restoration project requiring Flatwater to perform elsewhere. During this hiatus from the cemetery, Flatwater staged Othello at The Lincoln Community Playhouse and produced Angels in America: Parts 1 and 2, Cyrano De Bergerac, and Waiting for Godot (a co-production with Tom Crew and Patrick Lambrecht of The Crooked Codpiece company) at the Haymarket Theatre.
Most significantly, however, Flatwater used this time as an opportunity to create a wonderfully successful touring project, Flatwater Free Shakespeare, to bring productions free of charge to neighborhood parks and community spaces throughout Lincoln. The program was co-sponsored by The Woods Charitable Fund, Lincoln Community Foundation, and The Lincoln Department of Parks and Recreation. In the first four years of the tour, Flatwater has performed free Shakespeare to over eight thousand patrons, often in underserved areas of Lincoln.
In 2015 the restoration of the Historic Stables was completed and Flatwater announced a grand re-opening season of As You Like It in June and Hamlet in September. As You Like It will be presented free of charge and will tour to parks as well as playing at the Stables.
Flatwater has operated with grants from The Woods Charitable Fund, The Cooper Foundation, The Nebraska Arts Council, The Lincoln Arts Council, Lincoln Community foundation, nelnet, Humanities Nebraska, and the Dillon Foundation. We appreciate the support we have received from corporations such as Ameritas, from local businesses such as The Mill, A Novel Idea, and Ivanna Cone, and contributors too numerous to mention.