In recent years, the 38-year old Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival has faced some tough economic challenges. So when Charles Fee was named producing artistic director earlier this year, he knew what he had to do.
"This needed to be a season in which when I was brought on the Board, the goal was rebuild the economic base of this company."
The only way to do that, says Fee, was to pull the costs of production down. But even the smallest cast Shakesperean plays require at least a dozen actors, plus production staff. Fee chose instead to program a popular 3-man comedy in tribute to the Bard called “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)”
"It’s not real Shakespeare, on the other hand it’s an absolutely wonderful homage to Shakespeare. And it essentially takes the audience through every Shakespeare play ever written. It’s a little like Saturday Night Live meets Shakespeare."
The festival will present 32 performances of the play, which opens tomorrow night. In the future the same production will move to festivals in Cleveland, Ohio and Boise, Idaho where Fee also serves as artistic director.
"What we’re building is a very different business model to support large scale, classic work. If you can produce it and share your work consistently with other cities, obviously you can bring the total cost of production down by spreading it over varied markets."
Fee hopes to bring back larger cast plays actually written by Shakespeare next summer. But for now…
"My job is to build a company that can sustain itself through these tough times, rebuild in the coming years and give us another 38 years of Shakespeare at this unbelieveably beautiful site."
The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival runs through August 22nd at Sand Harbor.