“Yearly will I do this rite.”
—Much Ado About Nothing, 5.3
The central focus of the organization is its annual conference. Once a year we gather at the home of one of our member theatres to share information directly relating to the production of Shakespeare’s plays. The format for our meeting often runs the spectrum from panel discussions, to direct address by notable figures in the field, workshops, performances, small gatherings, receptions, and a closing banquet dinner. Recent keynote speakers have included Tina Packer, Founder of Shakespeare & Company, Kenneth Adelman, of Movers and Shakespeares, Bill Rauch, Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare scholar Alan Dessen, Dana Gioia, Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts; Libby Appel, Artistic Director Emeritus of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Ben Cameron, Former Director of Theatre Communications Group; and Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of Washington D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company. Meetings have included sessions on what we have come to call the “One-Play Focus,” when an individual Shakespeare play is discussed at length, as well as sessions on a variety of topics including rehearsal techniques, dramaturgy, marketing, development, education, outreach, board relations and balancing life and art. All members participate in sessions, and many sessions include leaders in the field: Tina Packer on rhetoric and verse speaking, famous Royal Shakespeare Company actor Tony Church, Gerald Freedman on being the first American director to work at London’s Globe Theatre, and many more. Generally, conferences are attended by 100 - 125 representatives of the majority of the STA member theatres.