The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, located in Montgomery - Alabama's state capital - is a fully professional regional theatre that produces around ten productions each season in association with Actors' Equity Association, The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and United Scenic Artists union. Productions of Shakespeare are at the artistic core of the company. Broadway musicals, children's productions, American classics and world premieres round out the annual offerings at ASF.
In 1972 Martin Platt, the founding Artistic Director (1972-1989), had a dream of classical theatre and The Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) was born. Originally located in Anniston in an un-airconditioned high school auditorium, ASF was a summer theatre festival - plays ran for six weeks during summer months. When the Festival faced bankruptcy in the early 1980s, Board Member Carolyn Blount approached her husband with this problem: The State of Alabama was about to lose a great cultural asset if something was not done. Wynton Blount agreed to build a new home for ASF, set in a 250-acre park, if only the theatre would move to Montgomery. Mr. Blount christened the performing arts complex "The Carolyn Blount Theatre" in December 1985. After moving to Montgomery, ASF began year-round operations with more than 400 performances scheduled each year. Mr. Blount's gift of the theatre complex was the largest single donation in the history of American theatre. ASF has remained financially sound ever since - one of the few American theatres to do so.
The $21.5 million Carolyn Blount Theatre, designed by Thomas Blount and Perry Pittman, with consultation by ASF designer James Michael Stauffer, is based on the theories of Andrea Palladio and houses two theatres (the 792-seat Festival Stage and the 262-seat Octagon), production shops, rehearsal halls, and administrative work spaces. More than one million bricks were used in building the complex, which contains more than 100,000 square feet of space. The late Russell Page, famed landscape architect, planned the English-style grounds and lake.
ASF operates year-round, producing 14 world-class productions annually, including three works of William Shakespeare. The remainder are classics of the stage - works by playwrights such as Moliére, George Bernard Shaw, Anton Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder, and Eugene O'Neill - along with musicals and new works commissioned by the Festival.
The Southern Writers' Project, ASF's new play development program, was founded by former Artistic Director Kent Thompson in 1991 as an exploration of the South's rich cultural heritage and is dedicated to creating a theatrical voice for Southern writers and topics. SWP connects our audience directly with the work produced here at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
SchoolFest, ASF's widely acclaimed student matinee programs, entertains and educates more than 36,000 schoolchildren each season from throughout the region.