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Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Theater

Mission: To make the works of Shakespeare and Shakespeare-inspired works accessible to a diverse audience through a free, professional, outdoor festival, and additional free and paid performances and educational programs.

Target demographics: to make the works of Shakespeare and Shakespeare-inspired works accessible to a diverse audience

Direct beneficiaries per year: 43,164 served

Geographic areas served: the Kansas City metro area

Programs: FREE (donation only) three week professional equity production of Shakespearean play or plays. Outdoor festival includes pre-performance Speakers Series, Youth Green Show, and many other Festival activities. Opportunity for all ages to enjoy accessible, classical, professional theatre at no charge.

Community Stories

34 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has been giving Kansas City audiences the gift of free sensationally produced Shakespeare plays for the last 26 years. The work they do
Is of an extraordinary professional caliber with all the heart and soul you hope to experience when watching these remarkable plays. It is a magical experience to sit outside in a beautiful setting while receiving a story of such power and depth. In Kansas City it is unique in offering audiences the opportunity to see professional theatre with ones entire family as many times as you desire. Free theatre is truly a gift and Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is remarkable in what they give to this city season after season!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

HASF was one of the first places I interned with while still in college and, I’m happy to say, I am still lucky enough to get to work in the teaching staff! I have developed life-long friendships and relationships through the education programs which I am forever grateful for. These programs are also life changing and invigorating for the young people who participate - they create lifelong memories and lasting bonds with people who appreciate their unique personalities and skills. I am forever grateful for the HASF ❤️

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Since my daughter moved to Kansas City, the Shakespeare Festival has fostered her career and personal growth. She has been directly involved with the Festival since college where she was an intern. The experience and positive relationships she has gained have tremendously built her confidence and skill set.

Additionally, the Shakespeare Festival is an enriching cultural tradition for all ages. It is wonderful that families can experience the arts at such a high caliber for FREE. The welcoming atmosphere and sense of community is unlike anything else in Kansas City.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, HASF, is unlike any other festival out there. Not only do they offer a variety of Shakespeare performances throughout the year, but they also strive to educate anyone at any age about the importance of Shakespeare's writing. They put on an amazing, completely free, festival each summer that brings thousands and thousands of KC residents into the park to experience what Shakespeare has to offer. They hire young professionals to intern during the festival who get the chance to work alongside experience professionals. I absolutely adore the festival and wouldn't want to be apart of anything else.

Jinni P.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

HASF is unlike any other theater experience in Kansas City. The magical atmosphere they've created in Southmoreland Park has become a cultural tradition for the city every summer. They draw audiences mixed with frequent theater goers and people who this is the only show they see all year. The audiences are dedicated to the festival. HASF's education projects (such as Team Shakespeare and summer camps) are continuing the appreciation of Shakespeare and establishing the importance of art in the next generations. As someone lucky enough to have worked on the festival for 10 years, there is nothing like a night in Southmoreland Park, watching quality Shakespeare productions, under the stars, filled with the exciting energy the festival creates.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

An organization that engages the top talent in the city in order to share the greatest playwright in the history of the western world with audiences... for FREE! There are very few words than can accurately sum up my love for Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Important. Vital. Inspiring. Community building. A Kansas City treasure.

I was fortunate enough to not only enjoy the incredible work of HASF surrounded by an audience rolling with laughter when I saw Much Ado this past summer, but I was also blessed in having the opportunity to perform Laertes in the 2017 production of HAMLET. The experiences back stage and in the audience might be wildly different, but they share the same outcome: community. The buzz and the celebration of life that spins around the crowd after the curtain call is the same feeling an actor has walking back to the dressing room after the show. It's the feeling of being part of something good and honest and decent in this world. Sharing that experience with others brings us together in a way that is very rare in this world today. There's nothing like HASF!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As someone who has both worked with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival onstage and watched from the audience, I can't think of a better word for HASF than INDISPENSABLE. The gifts it brings to the theatre professionals and the theatre-goers of Kansas City are innumerable, and there is nothing else like it anywhere nearby.

This is an organization that demonstrates professionalism, creativity, community engagement, artistic skill, and pure joy on every level, and it is evident in everyone who contributes to its successes, onstage and off, during the summer and year-round.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City has had the opportunity to partner with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival for the last two years. It has been a great opportunity for our Bigs & Littles to experience Shakespeare and learn about his work. Not only have they generously offered free tickets to Bigs & Littles, but Heart of America Shakespeare staff makes the experience so much better. In the past two years, they have provided a VIP tent and dinner for all BBBS attendees. They even sectioned off an area for us to sit together, which allowed other Bigs & Littles to chat and get to know each other better. All in all, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival staff is great to work with and they care about the community is so many ways. We hope to continue this great partnership next year as well :)

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival produces professional productions of incredible quality. They are a jewel of the Kansas City theater community and a true hidden gem in Kansas City. Their education programs produce well-trained actors and arts administrators.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival offers something that not many arts organizations can: a life-changing experience.

For young and old alike, the festival's summer performances often mark a first experience attending professional theater. They're free, under a starry sky, with cicadas chirping, sirens wailing, and glasses clinking. The audiences listen closely to the language of Shakespeare; the words, at first, seem impossible to understand, but then the rhythm of the dialogue washes over you, and it clicks.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been attending the festival for 10 years, and each year they set the bar higher and higher for performing arts in Kansas City. I am always amazed at the level of production value they are able to present, and all with no ticket revenue. This organization is a staple in Kansas City, and an important resource for the community. I always look forward to seeing their shows and I hope that the never go away!

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been attending the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival for nearly 10 years. I am also an active patron of the entire theatre community of Kansas City, so I see many shows throughout the year. I am always beyond impressed with the quality of work that HASF presents. The volunteers and staff go above and beyond to provide a truly enjoyable night in the park! I know that they just celebrated 25 years, and I hope to see them for more than 25 more!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is one of the artistic treasures of Kansas City. Productions are consistently outstanding, staging is great and the acting talent is always top notch. I'm amazed every year at the high level of professionalism HASF is able to achieve with limited staff and resources.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have enjoyed working with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival for the past seven years as a volunteer, serving on the HASF board of directors - helping with the marketing efforts to promote all the wonderful things this organization does. When I first got involved, I had no idea they also provided educational programs to kids and adults around the city. All the work the Shakespeare staff and volunteers do each year, in order to put on the educational programs and the summer festival, blew me away. As a volunteer, donating my time to help with the marketing efforts I can truly say the entire HASF staff is a pleasure to work with and has been for the past seven years! Each summer as I volunteer in the Good Will Society tent during the three week run of the festival, I am amazed at what a great show the audience consistently gets to see!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is nothing less than outstanding. Having been somewhat of a Shakespeare neophyte, I have been so impressed with the production and professionalism of this organization. Year after year is seems to somehow out perform its prior productions. A fabulous resource for the city of Kansas City! May it continue for many years to come.

1 Kristin F.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Just barely after my child's ninth year, the budding stage mom in me reared her precious little head. I was looking for summer prospects for Lucy and saw a brochure for local Shakespeare summer camps. I had seen a documentary about a New York educator who pulled off full Middle English productions with young students, listened to their reflections and testimonies about the impact that experience had into adulthood, and was surprised and grateful to find a local opportunity through Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. The only problem: the classes were for 10 and up. My girl had just turned nine.
Like any average stage mom I rang the director and explained my child's extraordinary capacities. I remember her candor: she accepted my daughter's enrollment and assured me that as a young participant Lucy would not have much of a role. We agreed and my daughter commenced a seminar in performance, language, philosophy and common sense that has remained a constant throughout her education. This year she will graduate from high school and the Festival's apprentice troop, Team Shakespeare.
As a member of Team she has held all stations from Queen's Attendant to King Macbeth and logged over 100 public performances. She has learned that every role holds enormous opportunity for learning and growth, no matter her line count.
Shakespeare camps and Team have evolved into an indispensible part of our life. We attend theater together, we potluck the first Sunday of each month. Our Team writes, performs and directs a parody for the summer Festival, performed each night before the show. Often my child is out of town during Festival season but i am hooked on watching the development of all of the Team members, so the festival is a regular fixture of my summer. I love to lie in the park, beneath the twilight and moon rise and just listen to the professional show, the recitation of Shakespeare in the summer air.
Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is a community organization that manages to sustain itself while giving back consistently and endlessly to the community, all year round. I describe my choice to approach the education director 8 years back as one of the best parenting decisions I've ever made. Raising smart, compassionate community members does take a village. HASF is one of the best villages around.

***fun random fact: last night my daughter attended a Halloween party for local theater with a recent Team alumni. They went as the current education directors. Everyone knew exactly who they were.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is a Kansas City gem. I started my career as an intern with them and went on to work for them in several capacities. I still return every summer with my family to experience the magic of theatre under the stars. The plays are engaging and accessible. As a theatre professional I am also consistently blown away by the high quality of the acting, direction and design.

1 Collin V.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege of participating with this nonprofit both as a professional artist and audience member. For starters, the vast amount of work created by the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival rivals the output of many organizations three- and four-times its size. Not only does the festival produce the highest quality theatrical production in Kansas City every summer, its year-round outreach to schools, churches, and community organizations throughout the KC metro area inspires thousands of would-be artists and patrons to find new ways to infuse their lives with Shakespeare. HASF's dedication to a professional, powerful instantiations of Shakespeare's work is the gold standard to which all other productions are measured in the community, and its passion to enrich the lives of everyone lucky enough to come into contact with its workshops, classes, partnerships and presentations is second to none.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have a degree in Theatre Education from William Jewell College, and I have attended HASF performances as an audience member for several years. Productions are always exceptionally professional, high quality storytelling, and make Shakespeare understandable for average families in Kansas City. And for free!

I also worked with them this summer to help finish the set of Hamlet and I had a lot of fun seeing things work from the "inside." Great team, well organized, and I would definitely help out if needed again.

Most recently, I have been a student with them for their Adult Shakespeare Class. As an actor I've grown a lot in a short amount of time and appreciate the insight both Sidonie and Matt bring to each workshop. Take a class!

I will always recommend this organization and hope others can continue to participate in any way; as a lover of stories, a theatre artist, or as a student keeping William Shakespeare alive and accessible to all in Kansas City.

--BRIAN GEHRLEIN

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The festival has been a high point of my summer for more than two decades. In that time I've laughed at Bottom, thrilled to Henry, raged with Lear, and sighed for Romeo. Oh, and I've swung to a little Kansas City jazz. (Director Sidonie Garrett has a knack for consistently changing things up.) Best of all has been the joy rising from Southmoreland Park as people of all makes and models come together, blankets and picnic baskets in hand, to revel in a bit of magic under the stars. Somewhere, Shakespeare is smiling.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I firmly believe in--and have witnessed the power of--the Shakepeare's Festival mission. No other theatre in Kansas City offers a free professional production in a venue that feels as familiar and comfortable as Southmoreland Park. I've seen five year olds marvel at the performances and follow along with the story, I've seen teenagers cart their scripts to the park and follow along, I've seen young adults and friends celebrate anniversaries and milestones out on the lawn. The Festival is a diverse, welcoming, vital part of Kansas City's artistic community, and its longevity demonstrates the continued relevance and universality of Shakespeare's works. The Festivals' year-round educational programming and well-respected community partnerships speak to the organization's ability to connect with audiences in new ways, and to keep them engaged with their mission beyond a single evening in the park. It's an institution with an indelible connection to summertime in Kansas City, and our community is better because of it.