Alabama Shakespeare Festival Pushing Through the Pandemic

The pandemic has hit theaters across the country pretty hard, specifically our local Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival: A River Region treasure since 1985.

“These whole grounds, which were Red Blount’s yard… a part of his property, were really designed for this theater,” ASF Executive Director Todd Schmidt said.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival, originally a summer festival in Annistion is now a year-round theater for the past twenty years in the Capital City.

Schmidt explained it’s been a trying eight months for people in theater. Locally, they’ve had to reduce staff size and depend solely on donations to keep afloat since ticket sales are out of the question, “Luckily we’ve had great support from our contributed revenue, from the government, from the state, county and city… and particularly from our individual donors”

Schmidt explained ASF is a big economic driver for Montgomery, attracting tourists from across the country. It’s usually a $9 million organization, which has an impact of $25 to $30 million to the local economy.

As for actors everywhere, the pandemic has caused their careers to come to a halt, “It’s been really hard on artists who make their living as journeymen… Going from job to job, Schmidt said. “There isn’t another job to go to right now.”

ASF staff now forced to get creative this season. They launched virtual plays earlier this year, and just rolled out a new project: Speak the Speech.

“We’ve put 14 great speeches from American theater throughout our park, so if you’re hankering to become an actor, the speeches are out there,” Artistic Director Rick Dildine said. “You can practice yourself. It’s great for all ages.”

“A lot of theaters are struggling. Many will close during this. Alabama Shakespeare Festival will be here and survive,” Schmidt told Alabama News Network.

Since Broadway announced it’s closing at least through May, Schmidt said the immediate future of experiencing a play inside of an ASF theater is still up in the air. They are already planning for plays one year out, starting next October.

Some exciting news we found out Wednesday: ASF will be hosting a Christmas event this year– which is still under wraps. Of course, stay tuned to Alabama News Network for the latest.

Categories: Montgomery, News