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Fostering community and joy across the St. Louis region through the Shakespearean tradition of art for all.


Inspired by R. Crosby Kemper, III, the idea of a free Shakespeare festival began in 1997, and with broad civic support, the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival received 501(c)3 status in December 1999.

In 2001, after three years of planning and preparation, first Managing Director Lana Pepper, along with Chairman of the Board Marvin Moskowitz and a visionary Board of community leaders, produced the first annual free Shakespeare festival in Forest Park, a production of “Romeo and Juliet.” Since the initial two-week run that attracted 33,000 audience members, the Festival has grown into a year-round institution producing over 250 public performances annually for nearly 100,000 patrons and students. Shakespeare in the Park remains an unofficial start of summer for many St. Louisans. 

Today the Festival is recognized as an arts and culture leader of the region and has received numerous awards including “Best Theatre Company,” “Most Innovative Arts Organization,” and Exemplary Community Achievement from the Missouri Humanities Council. In January 2015, the Festival received the Arts and Education Council’s Excellence in the Arts Award and recently in 2019 Focus St. Louis’s What’s Right with the Region award for fostering creativity for social change. 

Past Productions

Since 2001, STL SHAKES FEST has offered free, accessible theatre that is guided by and dedicated to our community. There is no place for hate, bigotry, or intolerance in our theatre. We will continue to welcome people of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, backgrounds, and countries of origin to our artistic space. With this statement, we are sharing and deepening a commitment to finding our common humanity both on and off stage. Join us.

St. Louis Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization. Contributions are eligible for tax deduction to the limit allowable by law. St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s tax identification number is 43-1815139.