Manawatu Summer Shakespeare's History

Summer Shakespeare has become a tradition in Palmerston North - it's now entering its seventh year, and has embraced comedy and tragedy with equal fervour.  All our performances have taken place at various venues around Victoria Esplanade, and every year the event attracts a full and enthusiastic audience eager to soak up a little drama with the scent of roses and the warm evening.

An audience that you could be a part of!

We always aim for high standards in our productions: professional experts in design, music and drama work with actors and back-stage crew drawn from the community and the excellence we achieve in terms of costume, set, musical presentation and composition as well as acting come in large part from this professional expertise.

The event takes months of careful planning and a huge commitment from everyone involved.  It generates excitement and artistic opportunity, giving the actors and crew the chance to learn about theatre under the tutorship of a professional director.  What's more it provides a necessary and enviable cultural event in the city that gives the region distinction and status.

We have worked with a number of different professional directors, largely through Massey's visiting artist programme, and each has brought not only their expertise and knowledge, but also a unique vision to the city and the play they have chosen.

Simon Ferry, a former Director of Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North, began it all with The Tempest in 2003, and was followed by Ralph Johnson, an actor, director and storyteller from Wellington, who gave us A Comedy of Errors in 2004.  Ryan Hartigan, winner of the Chapman Tripp Award for Most Promising New Director in 2005, presented Twelfth Night.  In 2006, then Wellington-based director Penni Bousfield stuck with comedy by presenting Love's Labour's Lost - she's currently UCOL Programme Leader for Performing Arts, and playing the Countess in this year's production.  Lilicherie McGregor, an academic and visionary who has worked all over the world, directed an innovative promenade version of Hamlet in 2007, and Ralph Johnson returned to direct Romeo and Juliet in 2008.

The Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost and Twelfth Night productions played to over 1000 people during their 2-weekend runs.  Audiences came from many walks of life and many were first-time theatre-goers.  School groups were encouraged to attend through the Summer Shakespeare Schools' Project and almost one hundred people participated either as actors, musicians, backstage support or through promotional activities.  We expect this year's audiences to exceed previous audience attendances.

Another audience that you could be a part of!

Articles about, and Posters from, Previous Productions

The Tempest - 2003
A Comedy of Errors - 2004
Twelfth Night - 2005
Love's Labour's Lost - 2006
Hamlet - 2007
Romeo and Juliet - 2008

Photographs from Previous Productions